The inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community was pressed by Republicans on Monday to probe whether agencies other than the FBI leaked to reporters about the government’s investigation into Russian election interference.
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa wrote the intelligence community’s chief watchdog, Michael K. Atkinson, to raise concerns about apparent leaks referenced in messages sent between former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
In a letter, the lawmakers cited specific text and email exchanges in which Mr. Strzok, a former FBI counterintelligence official, wrote that he suspected another agency was disclosing details to the media about the government Russia’s probe.
“Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad,” Mr. Strzok said to Ms. Page, a former lawyer for the bureau, in December 2016. “Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive.”
“I’m beginning to think the agency got info a lot earlier than we thought and hasn’t shared it completely with us,” Mr. Strzok said in an April 2017 email cited by the senators. “Might explain all these weird/seemingly incorrect leads all these media folks have. Would also highlight agency as source of some of the leaks.”
The chairs of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance committees, respectively, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Grassley said the messages “raise a number of serious questions and concerns.”
“We are looking forward to the Justice Department Inspector General’s forthcoming reports […] in order to gain a better understanding of what happened during the Russia investigation,” they wrote. “However, these texts and emails demonstrate the need to investigate leaks from agencies or entities other than FBI. Accordingly, has the Intelligence Community Office of the Inspector General initiated an investigation into these apparent leaks? If not, please explain why not.”
The office of the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community confirmed receipt of the senators’ letter but declined to comment further.
The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election to undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process and denigrate the campaign of President Trump’s opponent in the race, former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the U.S intelligence community assessed in a 2017 report.
A subsequent probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller for the Department of Justice concluded last month that Russia interfered in the race in a “sweeping and systematic fashion.”
“Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Mr. Mueller’s report said.
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