Trump launches fresh attacks on FBI, Justice Dept.
MATT ZAPOTOSKY The Washington Post
As politicians and others went on Twitter on Tuesday morning to mark the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President Donald Trump used the platform to launch a fresh round of assaults on the FBI and Justice Department.
Trump — apparently seizing on allegations leveled the night before by one of his conservative allies in Congress — referred to two former FBI officials who have become infamous for trading anti-Trump texts: Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
The President repeated a claim from Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., that the pair employed a “media leak strategy” to undermine his administration, then blamed the bureau and Justice Department for inaction on the matter.
The claim from Meadows is debatable; Strzok’s attorney said his client’s reference to a “media leak strategy” was an effort to stem unauthorized disclosures of information. Both Strzok and Page have left the FBI, Strzok because he was fired over his anti-Trump texts.
“New Strzok-Page texts reveal ’Media Leak Strategy.’ @FoxNews So terrible, and NOTHING is being done at DOJ or FBI — but the world is watching, and they get it completely,” Trump wrote.
The tweet was one of several Tuesday in which Trump interspersed messages about Sept. 11 with his thoughts on the Justice Department. Apparently quoting from a segment on Fox News, he tweeted at 7:08 a.m., “We have found nothing to show collusion between President Trump & Russia, absolutely zero, but every day we get more documentation showing collusion between the FBI & DOJ, the Hillary campaign, foreign spies & Russians, incredible.”
A minute later, he retweeted a message about his Sept. 11 proclamation, adding the hashtags, “#NeverForget #September11th.” Next he tweeted about the “media leak strategy.” After that, he suggested — apparently derisively and again quoting Fox News — that his Justice Department “would be behaving no differently than it is” if it were run by Eric Holder, President Barack Obama’s attorney general.
Holder fired back: “This is not a day for the usual unhinged Trump politics. This is a day to remember the innocent Americans we lost and the brave first responders who gave their lives.”
Trump’s tweet about the “Media Leak Strategy” refers to a letter Meadows sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Monday alleging a “systemic culture of media leaking” among high-ranking Justice Department and FBI officials. The letter reveals previously undisclosed messages between Strzok and Page, who were involved in both the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Trump has frequently derided both officials as he has attempted to discredit the Russia probe.
Meadows alleged in the letter, first reported by journalist and Fox News contributor Sara Carter, that Strzok texted Page in April 2017: “I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go.” Meadows’ staff has sparred with the Justice Department for access to materials on Strzok and the Russia investigation, and has in recent weeks reviewed messages that were not among the thousands already made public.