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SMS messages between former FBI officials catch reactions to stories about Russia research

SMS messages between former FBI officials catch reactions to stories about Russia research

Legislators received five months recovered messages between former FBI special agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page in early August, but the Republican representative of North Carolina Mark Meadows released specific fragments this week, in a letter to the Ministry of Justice indicate that they "suggest a coordinated effort by the FBI and DOJ to release information that could be detrimental to the administration of President Donald Trump."

While that research is under way and more messages can come up, CNN & # 39; s review of the latest texts, in the context of other messages and simultaneous events, show that Strzok and Page were keenly aware of the news articles about the FBI's investigation and its foothills, regularly informing each other when articles are being published.

Some texts raise questions about their degree of involvement in designing stories about ongoing investigations and whether they have been approved, but frequent coordination and communication with the former head of the press service of the FBI, Michael Kortan, is a consistent theme throughout their interactions . And sometimes they were consulted by the press service as subject matter experts to allow accurate reporting – to source familiar with their interactions – a regular occurrence that journalists check facts before they are published.

"It will turn your head to realize how many stories we played a personal role," wrote Page Strzok on December 19, 2016. "Sheesh, this has been a good year," she added and sent them a link to The New. Most read stories from York Times of 2016.

The reference to playing a "role" in the stories, while being open to interpretation, did not mean contributions to the underlying reporting, but their professional roles meant that they were familiar with certain information that only a small group of people at that time knew, according to a source that is familiar with the exchange.

In another text, the two CNN & # 39; s January 2017 reports suggest that Trump has been informed about the file compiled by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.

"Sitting with Bill watching CNN, a little more", text on the Strzok page on January 10, 2017. "Hey, let me know when you can talk, we'll discuss whether, as this is out, we'll use it as a pretext for interviewing a number of people. "

It is not clear what is meant by "pretext," but in counter-espionage investigations it is common to approach someone for questioning without revealing the true reason for the interview, which could be highly classified. Something of interest publicly reported in the media could serve as an effective way for an FBI agent to interrogate someone while protecting sensitive sources and methods, explained Josh Campbell, an CNN analyst and former special FBI regulator.

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