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Strzok, Page messages from Mueller probe lost after phone resets: IG

December 13, 2018 GMT

Investigators weren’t able to find any text messages between fired agent Peter Strzok and former bureau lawyer Lisa Page from their time on the Mueller probe because by the time their phones were recovered, they’d been reset for others’ use, an inspector general said Thursday.

The report also said the FBI still isn’t reliably collecting text messages of all of its employees despite the black eye the bureau has suffered from Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page.

The revelations came in a report Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released to detail the efforts his team made to try to recover the texts between the two, who traded anti-Trump messages during the course of an affair they were having.

Investigators have already released many of the controversial messages, including one in which Mr. Strzok promised they would “stop” Mr. Trump from winning the White House.

But there was a gap in the text messages, or what the inspector general dubbed a “collection tool failure,” and the new report detailed investigators’ efforts to try to recover those messages directly from the Samsung Galaxy phones issued to both Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page.

While messages were recovered from some phones, the inspector general said that wasn’t the case for the phones assigned to the two during their time on the special counsel’s probe.

Ms. Page joined that office on May 28, 2017, and left on July 15, 2017. Mr. Strzok joined in early June and was ousted from that team in late July, with his final clearance from the team coming Aug. 11, 2017.

They returned the phones issued to them, and they were both reset to factory settings and had no content from their use.

The FBI employee who received Mr. Strzok’s phone says she didn’t remember it containing any substantive messages. Ms. Page’s phone couldn’t be located for several months, but when it was finally found this September it had also been reset and had no messages.

The deputy attorney general told the inspector general that such resets are standard procedure when a user returns a device and it is to be reissued to another user.