“Embarrassment is not a good enough reason” to hide things from Congress, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) scolded. The DOJ went so crazy with the black magic markers that he’s questioned the legitimacy of every single one of their redactions no that a specific incident has been discovered. “The manner in which some redactions have been used casts doubt on whether the remaining redactions are necessary and defensible.”
The Senator was looking at a report on expenditures approved by former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired for lying under oath. The document noted that McCabe bought a conference table but the cost was blacked out. How could that be a national security secret? It isn’t.
“Congress, and the public, have a right to know how the Department spends taxpayer money,” Grassley wrote. “I am unaware of any legitimate basis on which the cost of a conference table should be redacted.”
“Many of the redactions within the documents made no sense, nor were they made to protect national security secrets,” he wrote.
When congressional watchdog committees on Capitol Hill started putting the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the oversight microscope. It seemed like everything Congress wants answers to has been hidden under “redactions.”
Instead of properly limiting the use to things which are classified state secrets, the DOJ started running a sharpie over anything that made them look bad. After he saw the cost of the table had been hidden, the Senator started looking much closer at the other things that were inked out.
It seems that the text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were also excessively redacted. One text that caught the chairman’s attention was a line that said Barack Obama’s “White House is running this.” Running what?
Despite a redacted name and vague context, it appeared to say that the unspecified investigation was the Russia collusion probe. That would suggest that President Obama was aware of the illegal activity and perhaps even directed it.
Senator Grassley demanded to see “less-redacted” copies of the text messages.
“When viewing the still redacted portions in context with the unredacted material, it appeared that the redacted portions may contain relevant information relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the matter in which the Department of Justice and the FBI handled the Clinton and Russia investigations.”
Copies of the messages already obtained by the press expand on the thread that Grassley is concerned about.
On August 5, 2016, Strzok texted Page, “Went well, best we could have expected. Other than [REDACTED] quote, ‘the White House is running this.’ My answer, ‘well, maybe for you they are.” That would suggest that someone in the West Wing was supposed to be in charge of the operation but Strzok wasn’t willing to cooperate if it didn’t suit him.
Page typed back, “Yeah, whatever. We’ve got emails that say otherwise.” Are there more emails floating around that we haven’t heard about yet, directing them to do whatever they want behind the President’s back?
Two days later, in another exchange, Strzok wrote, “hey talked to him, will let him fill you in. internal joint cyber cd intel piece for D, scenesetter for McDonough brief, Trainor [head of FBI cyber division] directed all cyber info be pulled. I’d let Bill and Jim hammer it out first, though it would be best for D to have it before the Wed WH session.”
Grassley gave the DOJ until June 6 to produce “unredacted copies of all text messages produced to the Committee.” If they aren’t willing to come across with the information, Grassley wants to know exactly what gives them the authority to refuse.
“Should the Department continue to refuse to provide fully unredacted copies to Congress, please provide a privilege log describing the legal basis for withholding that information from Congress,” he instructs.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) backed Senator Grassley up on the issue. “We have so many redactions we can’t put all the pieces together,” the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, confirmed.
He also pointed out another message between Strzok and Page a month after the one Grassley is concerned about. In the later one, Page texted, “POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing.”
This is the second letter that Senator Grassley wrote to Rosenstein this week.
On Monday, he sent over a demand for all the “emails, phone logs, handwritten notes and text messages regarding former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr’s communications with Christopher Steele.”
He also wanted to schedule Ohr for a session of committee grilling under the hot lights for his role in how the dossier was handled. They will have lots of questions about his wife too, she worked for Fusion GPS.