On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted this, in all caps: "NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!"
Here's what he's referring to: Fox News reported on Wednesday that FBI lawyer Lisa Page told her lover Peter Strzok, an FBI agent, in a September 2016 text message that Obama wanted "to know everything we're doing." The two FBI officials are viewed by conservatives as the prime examples of alleged widespread anti-Trump bias among federal law enforcement, and have been targets of Republicans before.
Conservatives — including the president — quickly pounced on the texts. They said the texts were further evidence of the anti-Trump conspiracy during the Obama administration to minimize the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails.
Asked on Fox & Friends to interpret the text, House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said that "it means the president [Obama] wants to know what they're doing to stop Trump." Some conservatives also believe the effort to depose Trump continues within special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, which, among other things, looks into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
The problem: We already know none of that is true.
First, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that associates of Strzok and Page said the texts were actually about Obama wanting to learn more about Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election — not about the Clinton investigation.
Second, CNN obtained emails in January that showed Strzok co-wrote the first draft of the letter that Comey sent to Congress in October 2016, announcing that the FBI was reopening an investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails after finding new messages on Anthony Weiner's laptop. That letter set off a political firestorm just 11 days before the presidential election and hurt Clinton at the polls — so much so that it may have swung the election in favor of Trump.
Finally, Fox News has the timeline all wrong. As Judd Legum at ThinkProgress noted on Wednesday, Comey closed the Clinton email investigation on July 5, 2016 — nearly two months before Page's supposedly explosive text. On top of that, the newly revealed texts show that the FBI didn't learn about the new Clinton emails later found on Anthony Weiner's computer until September 28, 2016 — weeks after Page's message to Strzok.
This means it's actually unclear what Obama wanted to know, and not the nefarious move Fox News alleges. And it also continues the conservative campaign to discredit Mueller before his probe ends.
That invites the question: Why have the texts become such a big deal?
The answer lies perhaps in the timing of the Fox News piece, which comes just days after a Republican effort to make look Trump look good failed — and days before Trump could squash a Democratic effort that could make him look bad.
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