Things have gone from bad to worse for disgraced anti-Trump former FBI agent Peter Strzok.
After a series of text messages came out last week, that appeared to suggest he was leaking FBI “Russia/Trump” info to the press, his lawyer came out and said that everyone was misunderstanding – Strzok was actually trying to HELP Trump, by stopping the leaks.
Well, now a new set of texts have been released, which prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Strzok was indeed leaking to the press – and he had quite a few sources battling for his info.
series of text messages released Wednesday reveal that former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok was in contact with reporters at the New York Times and Washington Post regarding stories they published about the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and President Trump’s campaign during the spring of 2017, according to a series of texts obtained by SaraACarter.com.
The text messages suggest that Strzok, along with his paramour, former FBI Attorney Lisa Page, had been in contact with reporters from both newspapers. Strzok specifically mentioned two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times writer Michael Schmidt his text message to Page.
Strzok wrote, “Also, apparently Times is angry with us about the WP (Washington Post) scoop and earlier discussion we had about the Schmidt piece that had so many inaccuracies. Too much to detail here, but I told Mike (redacted) and Andy they need to understand we were absolutely dealing in good faith with them,” Strzok texted to Page on April 14, 2017. “The FISA one, coupled with the Guardian piece from yesterday.” (The New York Times did not respond immediately for comment. The Washington Post also did not respond immediately for comment.)
According to several U.S. officials who spoke to this news outlet, “Mike” mentioned in Strzok’s text message is Mike Kortan, the former FBI assistant director for public affairs who retired in February. “Andy” was in reference to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe was fired earlier this year after it was revealed in DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report that said he lied to investigators and leaked information to the media.
Past and present U.S. officials say the template for the leak campaign can be traced back to the Obama administration’s efforts to sell the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which made the press reliant on background conversations and favorable leaks from government officials. Obama adviser Ben Rhodes told the New York Times in 2016 that “we created an echo chamber” that “helped retail the administration’s narrative.”
“That same configuration,” said Michael Doran, a senior official in the George W. Bush White House, “the press, political operatives, newly minted experts, social media validators—was repurposed to target Trump, his campaign, transition team, then the presidency.” The echo chamber’s primary instrument in attacking the current White House said Doran, “is the Russia collusion narrative.”
RCI has found that the anti-Trump leaks fall into two broad categories or phases. Initially, the leaking was an offensive operation aimed at disrupting Trump’s agenda, especially through leaks alleging connections between his campaign and the Russians. Its early successes included leaks of highly classified material that led to the firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from overseeing that probe.
The second phase – which began roughly a year into the Trump administration – has been more defensive, pushing back against congressional oversight committees that had uncovered irregularities in the FBI’s investigation of Trump. This phase has been marked by the willingness of press outlets to run stories backing off earlier reported leaks that proved to be deeply misleading – including the roots of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign and the relationship between Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr and the opposition research firm that produced a central document of that probe, the largely discredited “Steele dossier.”
This second phase has also included articles and opinion pieces – some written by journalists who have published classified information – dismissing suspicions of an orchestrated campaign against Trump as, to use the phrase invoked in a recent New Yorker article, a “conspiracy theory.”
“Former Obama officials and their press allies can call it a ‘conspiracy theory’ or whatever they want,” a senior U.S. official — familiar with how Obama holdovers and the media jointly targeted Trump figures — told RCI. “But they can’t say it’s not true that former Obama officials were furiously leaking to keep people close to Trump out of the White House.”
The focus of the ongoing anti-Trump campaign became clear in March 2016 when the candidate identified Carter Page and George Papadopoulos as foreign policy advisers. For reasons that remain unclear, FBI officials decided that Page, in particular, was a Russian asset and that others on the team might be as well. Instead of alerting Trump to this possibility, law enforcement set up a sting operation.
As RCI has previously reported, FBI informants and figures associated with Western intelligence approached the Trump team with offers of Russian-sourced dirt on Clinton. Among the seven mysterious approaches, the most significant, as RCI recently reported, was a Russian lawyer’s June 9 meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with Donald Trump Jr. and others.
That meeting now appears especially suspicious, but not for reasons cited by Trump critics: it was revealed that the Russian lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, met the day before and the day after the tower meeting with Glenn Simpson, whose opposition research firm Fusion GPS was being retained by her as well as the Clinton campaign.
At the same time, Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, was working with a former British spy, Christopher Steele, and Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr’s wife, to assemble a series of reports alleging Trump’s ties to the Kremlin.
In late summer the “Steele dossier” — portrayed by media outlets as the work of a conscientious foreign analyst frightened by Trump’s unsavory connections — was circulated to Washington newsrooms. Yahoo News and Mother Jones published articles based on Steele’s briefings. High-profile columnists at other publications – the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Slate, the New Yorker, Newsweek, and the Weekly Standard – rehashed dossier talking points.
The collusion narrative became fully operational at the end of October when the anti-Trump efforts of the Clinton campaign, the media and the FBI intersected. Even though then-Director James B. Comey considered the dossier “salacious and unverified,” the FBI used it, and a Yahoo News article based on Steele’s reports, to obtain a warrant to spy on Page weeks before the election.
Those efforts might have been lost to history but for a stunning event: Trump’s victory. As Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes reported in their book, “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign”: “Within 24 hours of her concession speech, [campaign chairman John Podesta and manager Robby Mook] assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. … Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”
Still in power in the lame-duck period, members of the Obama administration started to play offense, illegally leaking highly classified information aimed at undermining the new administration’s agenda by raising concerns about Russian interference.
Read more here.