"We will leave no stone unturned to confirm with certainty why these text messages are not now available to be produced and will use every technology available to determine whether the missing messages are recoverable from another source," Sessions said in a statement.
"I have spoken to the inspector general and a review is already underway to ascertain what occurred and to determine if these records can be recovered in any other way. If any wrongdoing were to be found to have caused this gap, appropriate legal disciplinary action measures will be taken."
Republican lawmakers have seized on the private texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which were reportedly sent between December 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017. The GOP believe the texts are evidence of a negative FBI bias against US President Donald Trump.
On Friday, 9,000 text messages were released to Congress — and they don't paint a pretty picture. Strzok referred to Trump as a "douche" and an "utter idiot," and told Page that Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton "just had to win" the election.
Strzok also told Page that he wanted an "insurance policy" against Trump winning, although it wasn't clear what he meant by this. "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's [believed to be FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe] office — that there's no way he gets elected — but I'm afraid we can't take that risk," he told Page. "It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40."
In one of the biggest stories in a long time, the FBI now says it is missing five months worth of lovers Strzok-Page texts, perhaps 50,000, and all in prime time. Wow!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2018
The FBI/govt “loss of texts” revelations are crazy. How often can they lose seemingly critical info before Americans realize it’s all a big scam? Lerner, Clinton, FBI etc…— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 22, 2018
Imagine if I tried that???
Why the different standard for them?
Mueller removed Strzok from his team when the first text messages came to light. If the FBI is found to be biased, it would be a major blow to the quixotic quest of Trump opponents to discredit the president and see him prematurely removed from office.
Three top House Republicans — Judiciary Committee head Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Oversight Committee chiefs Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Intelligence Committee top dog Devin Nunes (R-CA) — issued a joint statement expressing concern that the DOJ and FBI were carrying a bias against Trump.
Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY) also urged Congress to subpoena the FBI's service carrier to try to receive the messages from their databases. "Congress must do everything it can to recover these critical text messages, including subpoenaing Strzok and Page's cell carriers and requesting the FBI perform a full forensic exam of their employees' phones in an attempt to recover the messages," Zeldin said in a statement.
In a letter issued on Sunday, the FBI claimed that they did not have a record of the messages sent by Page and Strzok, due to issues with "rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades" with FBI-issued cell phones. May 17 happens to be the day that the special counsel investigation began.
But NSA analyst-turned-whistleblower Bill Binney was highly skeptical of this claim. "The random probability is zero on all of it simply because not only did they delete the evidence in the FBI… they also, since it's text messages going across the net, have to delete it in the NSA," Binney told Sputnik. "They have to do both agencies and to do the same kind of similar data, in both cases that is data relevant to an investigation… that kind [of mistake] is virtually impossible [to be a random act]."
The DOJ has also requested text messages from a larger window of time. "Six congressional committees made a request to the Department of Justice for FBI text messages between two FBI employees from July 1, 2015, to July 28, 2017, which the Department agreed to produce as quickly as possible," Sessions wrote in his announcement. "If we are successful, we will update the congressional committees immediately."