The president and his team are eager to seize upon anything that could be used to prove that the ongoing investigation into the president’s team for possible cooperation with Russian efforts to influence the election is not legitimate. Thus, it’s unsurprising that the release earlier this week of volatile text messages sent by a former member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has given Republicans an excuse to scrutinize the DOJ yet again.
Now, an official tasked with oversight of the Department of Justice is saying that they were not even consulted before the texts in question were released to the press and to Congressional Republicans. Rather, Inspector General Michael Horowitz says that the DOJ simply went off of prior statements of his in their decision to release the texts, without actually seeing whether or not those statements still applied to the present situation.
The present situation consists of the revelations about why exactly it is that Peter Strzok was removed earlier this year from Special Counsel Mueller’s team. Strzok had text conversations with fellow FBI agent Lisa Page in which he expressed harsh criticisms of Donald Trump.
These communications were discovered in the process of an internal FBI review of the handling of the Clinton email investigation, which Strzok worked on. Unsurprisingly, the president has seized upon the fact that Strzok worked on that investigation as a method to try and discredit the investigation, something he’s tried to do for some time. After all, it ended with Clinton walking free and like some sort of wannabe third world leader, he wishes she’d been prosecuted.
Besides the president’s tweet, an increasing number of Republicans are questioning the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation — and it’s not hard to see why they’re so eager to do so. Mueller has brought charges against four members of Trump’s team, including, most recently, Michael Flynn.
In other words, Mueller isn’t letting the Trump Administration just move forward unchecked.
Now, through all of this, Inspector General Horowitz has revealed that he wasn’t even consulted before the texts in question were released.
In a letter to three Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, he stated, quite simply:
‘The Department did not consult with the OIG in order to determine whether releasing the text messages met applicable ethical and legal standards before providing them to Congress.’
He added that the Department did not consult with his office before providing the texts to the press either, which took place on Tuesday night.
Check out his letter below.
Obama-era DOJ spokesperson Matthew Miller called the release of the texts “appalling behavior by the department,” saying:
‘It is at least debatable whether it was appropriate to turn them over to the Hill in the middle of an ongoing investigation. Under no circumstances was it appropriate to leak them to the press.’
It remains to be seen what exactly is going on here and who is responsible for the texts being released. During an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been involved in the texts being released. Rosenstein replied by saying that he did not know of such being the case.
Featured Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images