Before Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in December 2017, the Department of Justice took the unprecedented step of inviting a group of reporters to its offices to view private text messages between FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. The messages were critical of President Trump and sent during the 2016 campaign. Strzok and Page served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, and their personal texts were leaked by DOJ in an apparent effort to create doubt about the integrity of Mueller’s investigation.
Given this highly unusual, if not unprecedented, action to secretly leak the contents of documents currently under review by the DOJ IG, the public has a clear and pressing interest in learning whether the leak was properly authorized. If the Page and Strzock, the inspector general, and DOJ’s interests were not appropriately considered and protected, that raises serious concerns about the administration of justice in the Trump administration’s DOJ.
CREW requested all communications concerning the decision to invite reporters to DOJ on December 12, 2017, to share Strzok and Page’s private text messages. Communications with reporters, within DOJ and with Congress are all necessary to understand the approval of the leak, and how the leak was received by Congress and the media. Click here to read our FOIA to the Office of the Inspector General, here to read our expedited FOIA request to the Office of Information Policy, and here to read our expedited request to the Office of Public Affairs.
On December 15, 2017, the Office of Inspector General responded to our request with one responsive document. On January 3, 2018, CREW filed a lawsuit challenging the failure of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to respond to its request for expedition of its FOIA request. Read the lawsuit here.
CREW received several sets of documents in response to this request. The records show that DOJ did not want the leak attributed to the agency in the media, and that there was push back from members of the press. Read them here: 4/30/18, 6/29/18, 7/2/18, 8/24/18, 9/14/18, and 10/15/18.