The Justice Department informed lawmakers Thursday that the report from its internal watchdog on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation will reveal additional private text messages exchanged between two FBI officials who have come under scrutiny for their unfiltered criticism of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to a department spokesperson.
The news of new text messages between former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok came just hours before Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will issue an exhaustive new report on the FBI's actions leading up to the 2016 election. Page and Strzok both worked closely on the investigation and Horowitz is expected to address the new messages in his report, but the Justice Department did not reveal their contents in the letter to Congress.
Thousands of messages have been turned over to Capitol Hill over the last several months, but the latest batch was only recently uncovered by Horowitz's office.
Previous batches of texts between Page and Strzok offer a private glimpse into an extra-marital affair, internal office politics, preparation for congressional hearings, mocking a variety of politicians during presidential debates and the fallout from the surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Trump and members of Congress have used the messages to fuel unsupported conspiracy theories, but the private exchanges also leave little doubt about Page's and Strzok's unadulterated contempt for Trump. Whether their political views influenced the substance of their work is a topic of Horowitz's report.
"The terrible judgment exercised by these two individuals risks causing great damage to the FBI's reputation," said Josh Campbell, a CNN analyst and former FBI Supervisory Special Agent. "Although our officials should continue to thoroughly investigate whether their political biases were manifested beyond snarky text messages, I think the American people can rest assured that the robust system of checks and balances within the FBI ensures personal political beliefs do not impact investigations."
Strzok led the investigation of former secretary of state Clinton's private email server as the No. 2 official in the FBI's counterintelligence division. He was later involved in opening the investigation into ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives.
He briefly served on special counsel Robert Mueller's team last year, but was removed shortly after the Justice Department inspector general's office stumbled upon the initial set of text messages and is now stationed in human resources. Page was also on Mueller's team briefly before returning to the FBI, but she completed her detail before the special counsel's office was made aware of the texts. She left the bureau in May.