Thousands of cellphones given to FBI employees were unable to properly archive texts for months due to a "technical glitch," Fox News reported Wednesday, citing federal officials. The glitch prevented agents' messages from being "stored or uploaded into the bureau's archive system" — including messages exchanged by two former FBI employees who have emerged as central figures in the debate over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
On Sunday, the Justice Department announced that the FBI was missing five months of texts between Special Agent Peter Strzok and bureau lawyer Lisa Page, both of whom briefly served on Mueller's team. Strzok was previously removed from the FBI probe after it was revealed that he had disparaged the president in texts he'd sent to Page; the two were romantically involved.
President Trump and his allies have pointed to Strzok and Page's texts as proof that FBI agents are biased against the president, and have questioned the FBI's claims about the missing messages. Their missing texts date from Dec. 14, 2016, to May 17, 2017 — a key period of time spanning Trump's inauguration and the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
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But the FBI claims that a technical malfunction affected nearly 10 percent of its staff and caused a widespread loss of messages from thousands of agents, not just Strzok and Page, between June 2016 and May 2017, CBS News reported. CBS News additionally said that the technical issues with the FBI-issued Samsung 5 devices "[were] unique to each phone," causing lapses in archiving across different times for each agent.
Fox News reported that the Justice Department said it is "'taking steps' to possibly recover the texts."
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