In testimony before Congress last summer, FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap was asked about the affair between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Bureau lawyer Lisa Page and what kind of impact it might have had on their ability to perform their jobs. The testimony remained secret for nearly a year until Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) released the transcript to the press on Tuesday.
Strzok and Page, of course, are best known for sending hundreds of text messages back and forth, many of which demonstrated the pair’s hostility towards then-candidate Donald Trump. Strzok’s top-level involvement in both the Hillary Clinton email case and the Trump/Russia collusion investigation gave rise to questions of bias within the agency. These questions intensified when text messages were revealed in which Strzok promised his lover that Trump would never be president because “we will stop him.”
Asked about the two lovebirds, Priestap said that he was made aware of the affair by another agent.
“After Pete had been reporting to me for a considerable amount of time, somebody brought to my attention that that behavior might be going on. And so that’s when I became aware that that was a possibility,” Priestap told lawmakers.
After discussing the tip with his boss, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Priestap said he called Strzok and Page into his office.
“I felt I owed it to them,” he explained. “Lisa did not report to me, but I felt that they ought to be aware of what was being said. I didn’t ask them if it was true, but they needed to know that that impression was out there.
“And I don’t remember my exact words,” he continued. “But what I was trying to communicate is this better not interfere with things, if you know what I mean. Like, to me, the mission is everything. And so, we all have our personal lives, what have you. I’m not the morality police.”
One House Judiciary Committee staffer then asked Priestap if the hidden affair could make Page and Strzok “vulnerable to a foreign intelligence service.”
“In my opinion, yes,” Priestap acknowledged. “They knew darn well that if that was going on, that potentially makes them vulnerable.”
At this point, we hardly needed further confirmation that Agent Strzok had no business being the lead on two of the most sensitive, important investigations of 2016, but to learn that his own boss thought he might be subject to foreign blackmail attempts is on another level. It certainly makes us wonder not only what Strzok was thinking but what his bosses at the FBI were thinking in keeping him on the case.
Then again, it seems the Bureau had bigger concerns at that time, such as keeping Donald Trump from becoming the next President of the United States.