Ahead of his resignation from the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney General William Barr continues to make weighty decisions in the continuing investigation of the FBI probe into alleged collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russia.
According to the Daily Caller, Barr has moved to declassify a batch of FBI messages involving Peter Strzok, a former agent often found at the center of questions about the infamous Trump–Russia collusion investigation.
GOP senators seek declassification
After playing a major role in the probe known as Crossfire Hurricane, Strzok came under fire for text messages signaling his anti-Trump views.
The latest messages provide additional behind-the-scenes perspective into his thinking as the investigation was ongoing.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) asked for the documents to be declassified at the end of October, and Barr granted the request at the beginning of this month, according to the Daily Caller.
As far back as September 2016, reports alleged via an anonymous source that then-campaign staffer Carter Page met with Russian government operatives.
According to the newly declassified messages, however, Strzok knew at the time of those 2016 accusations that former British spy Christopher Steele’s since-discredited dossier was the source.
“Intended to influence”
In one message shared by the Daily Caller, Strzok wrote: “Looking at the Yahoo article, I would definitely say at a minimum Steele’s reports should be viewed as intended to influence as well as to inform.”
Despite the fact that Steele was used as a source for other articles and the FBI reportedly knew about it, the bureau kept such information off of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court application to spy on Trump campaign staffers. In 2019, a Justice Department inspector general report condemned this decision.
According to the messages, Strzok came to narrow in on Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos after Australian diplomat Alexander Downer claimed that Papadopoulos told him that the Russian government could be aiming to help Trump out in the 2016 race.
The declassified messages further indicate that Strzok knew veteran journalist Carl Bernstein had received the Steele dossier from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
Trump reacted to the news on Wednesday by attacking McCain, who has since died of brain cancer, in a tweet: “Check out last in his class John McCain, one of the most overrated people in D.C.”