Inspector General: Strzok, Page Text Messages From Mueller Probe ‘Lost’ After DOJ Reset Phones to ‘Factory Settings’

On Thursday, the Office of Inspector General released its partially redacted report describing its investigation into the recovery of text messages from former FBI agent Peter Strzok and his paramour former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

According to the IG report, the text messages sent between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok about the Mueller probe were ‘lost’ because their phones were conveniently reset to ‘factory settings’ by the someone in the DOJ.

DOJ-issued iPhones six months earlier when their assignments to the SCO had ended. The 010 was told that the DOJ issued iPhone previously assigned to Strzok had been re-issued to another FBI agent following Strzok’s departure from the SCO. The SCO obtained the iPhone from that individual and provided it to the 010. CYB ER obtained a forensic extraction of the iPhone previously assigned to Strzok; however. this iPhone had been reset to factory settings and was reconfigured for the new user to whom the device was issued. It did not contain data related to Strzok’s use of the device. SCO’s Records Officer told the 010 that as part of the office’s records retention procedure, the officer reviewed Strzok’s DOJ issued iPhone after he returned it to the SCO and determined it contained no substantive text messages.

Investigators were initially unable to locate Lisa Page’s phone but when it was finally recovered, they realized her phone was also reset to factory settings and the data on her phone was ultimately deleted.

The SCO was unable to locate the iPhone previously assigned to Page, which had been returned to DOJ’s Justice Management Division (JMD). Subsequently, in early September 2018, JMD informed the OIG that it had located the iPhone that had been assigned to Page. The OIG took custody of the device. Page’s iPhone had been reset to factory settings on July 31, 2017, but had not been reissued to a new user. (The Office of the Deputy Attorney General told the OJG that the Department routinely resets mobile devices to factory settings when the device is returned from a user to enable that device to be issued to another user in the future.) The OJG forensic review of the phone determined that it did not contain any data related to Page’s use of the device. SCO’s Records Otlicer stated that she did not receive the phone following Page’s departure from the $CO and therefore she did not review Page’s iPhone for records that would possibly need to be retained prior to the phone having been reset. As noted on page 395 of the OIG’s June 2018 report entitled, “A Review of Various Actions by the Fedel’a! Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election,” https://www.iustice.gov/file/l07199J/download, the Department, unlike the FBI, does not have an automated system that seeks to retain text messages, and the service provider only retains such messages for 5 to 7 days.

The FBI also admitted it still isn’t collecting messages from its employees even though its reputation is in tatters following Comey’s directorship.

Certainly these ‘missing’ texts between Strzok and Page would have been damning to Special Counsel’s witch hunt which is why their phones were scrubbed.

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