DOJ spokeswoman: Meaning of 'secret society' text message is unclear

DOJ spokeswoman: Meaning of 'secret society' text message is unclear
Posted at 9:49 AM, Jan 25, 2018

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Thursday that it's unclear whether a text message between two FBI employees referring to a "secret society" was serious or done in jest.

"It's unclear. That's why we wait for an inspector general report, who is investigating this," Sarah Isgur Flores told CNN's "New Day."

Conservatives have seized on the text exchange between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok, which was sent after the 2016 presidential election, as potential evidence of an anti-Donald Trump bias at the FBI. Strzok was a member of the FBI team investigating Hillary Clinton's email server and, later, a member of Robert Mueller's special counsel operation looking into Russia's attempted interference in the 2016 election.



ABC News obtained a copy of the text message that Republicans appear to be referring to. The report said that from the message, it's not clear whether the reference to a "secret society" was a joke.

"Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society," Page wrote to Strzok, according to ABC. The report said the text had no relation to others sent before or after it, which makes it harder to decipher the context.

Flores also said the DOJ wants to see the House Intelligence Committee's four-page memo that alleges FBI abuses related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the use of the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia. Republicans on the committee are considering using an obscure committee rule to bypass the executive branch's declassification process to release the classified memo.

The Justice Department warned Wednesday that it "would be extraordinarily reckless" for the committee to release the memo publicly "without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum" and to "advise" on possible harm to national security and ongoing investigations from its public release.

"A lot of congressmen have seen it and a lot of congressmen have been disturbed by it. And so I think what we're saying is, if you have evidence of wrongdoing, we really need to see that," Flores said.

Flores added that "at this point I haven't seen any evidence" of FISA warrant abuse, but noted that members of Congress have "seen over a thousand pages of material. Maybe they've seen something that we haven't."

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