(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 345 pages of records from the Department of Justice that show FBI top officials scrambling to write a letter to Congress to supplement then-Director James Comey’s Senate testimony in an apparent attempt to muddle his message.
Judicial Watch obtained the records through a January 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the DOJ failed respond to a December 4, 2017 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00154)). Judicial Watch is seeking all communications between FBI official Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page.
The emails were released in response to a May 21 court order by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to the FBI to process 13,000 pages of records.
In an email thread starting at 6:34 a.m. on May 9, 2017, with the subject line “Comey’s Testimony on Huma Abedin Forwarding Emails Was Inaccurate – ProPublica” nearly a dozen top FBI officials scrambled to draft a letter to Congress about Comey’s May 3 Senate testimony.
This email thread was concerned with a May 8, 2017, ProPublica report stating that, “Comey’s most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — [Anthony] Weiner’s wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made ’a regular practice’ of forwarding ‘hundreds and thousands’ of Clinton messages to her husband, ‘some of which contain classified information.’ Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss.… FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found.”
After a flurry of emails, by 8:56 a.m. Comey’s chief of staff, Jim Rybicki, sent the group a draft letter for Congress, saying, “Below is a draft that has been reviewed by the Director. Please let me know your thoughts.” At 2:02PM, Asst. Director for Congressional Affairs, Greg Brower, asked his colleagues to review the latest iteration of the draft letter to the Senate.
In a March 24, 2017 email from New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt to FBI Assistant Director for Public Affairs Michael Kortan, Schmidt offers the FBI information about Ambassador Kislyak allegedly setting up a meeting between Jared Kushner and a Russian banker. Michael Schmidt asks no questions of Kortan, instead only offering information:
Michael Schmidt emails Kortan: Mike: Wanted to flag you on something. Three of my colleagues are working on a story about the Russia investigation. They’re told that Jared Kushner is among the individuals who the F.B.I. is scrutinizing for their meetings with Russians. My colleagues were told that Ambassador Kislyak, after meeting Kushner and General Flynn in early December at Trump Tower, set up a meeting with Kushner and a Russian banker. Kushner ultimately met with the Russian banker. The banker worked for Alpha Bank. Thanks. Mike
In an April 10, 2017, email exchange between Strzok, Page and other redacted FBI officials with the subject line “NYT Last Shot,” the FBI appears to be given a preview of an upcoming article in The New York Times.
[Redacted] emails Strzok, Page and others: Pete/Lisa, The editing is nearing completion and we have one last shot to hear what the end result is. Do you have time later today or tomorrow that is convenient for a listening session? Likely by phone in Mike’s office.