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New FBI texts appear to show early 2016 discussion of Clinton special prosecutor

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jan 25, 2018

New excerpts of text exchanges between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page released Thursday appear to show the two discussing the Hillary Clinton email investigation, including how much manpower they should exert and whether or not a special prosecutor should be brought in.

"She might be our next president. The last thing you need us going in there loaded for bear," Page, an FBI attorney, said in a discussion on February 25, 2016, about personnel involved in the investigation. "You think she's going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi?"

"Agreed," replied Strzok, who was romantically involved with Page, and who led the probe as the former No. 2 counterintelligence official at the bureau.

In other exchanges, in March and May of 2016, the pair reference an internal FBI discussion about a potential "special prosecutor" that was making top bureau officials "stressed." The texts came as public pressure was mounting from Republicans on Capitol Hill to appoint a special counsel or prosecutor in the Clinton case.

Internal FBI discussions about the need for a special prosecutor have not been previously detailed.

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray accompanying the release of the new texts, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said, "Congress, and the American public, have a right to know whether the DOJ and FBI considered the appointment of a special counsel."

As details from the pair's exchanges have leaked out all week, Republican lawmakers have seized on the texts as examples of bias among the ranks of the law enforcement agency. Other texts have drawn scrutiny for criticism of President Donald Trump, as well as politicians on both sides of the aisle.

The DOJ delivered 384 pages of the text messages to lawmakers on six committees over the weekend. Strzok had served on special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election until he was reassigned when the texts were discovered in a separate internal investigation. Page also briefly worked on the election interference team before returning to the FBI, but she completed her detail before the special counsel's office was made aware of the texts.

In another text released Thursday, Page wrote on October 28, 2016, that then-FBI Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki believed "very clearly 100%" that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe "should be recused because of the 'perception,'" -- presumably referencing the Clinton investigation.

At the time, Republicans had called for McCabe to step aside from the Clinton email probe over ties between his wife's own political campaign and Clinton donors. McCabe formally recused himself from the probe on November 1, 2016, according to FBI emails.

Grassley also cried foul over text messages in which the pair swapped side conversations and exchanged documents on iMessage and Gmail. It is unclear, however, whether they passed any classified information through those private channels -- the same potential crime the agency was investigating Clinton for.

"It is important to determine whether their own similar conduct was a factor in not focusing on and developing evidence of similar violations by Secretary Clinton and her aides," Grassley wrote.

CNN has reached out to attorneys for Strzok and Page for comment.