Congressional Republicans fanned out across cable television networks this week to sound the alarm over a possible “secret society” within the FBI that they said was plotting to take down Donald Trump’s presidency.
It turns out the text Republicans have been raising concern over appears to be a joke between two FBI agents.
“Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society,” FBI lawyer Lisa Page wrote in the text to FBI agent Peter Strzok, ABC News reported. Strozk has been removed from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, and Republicans have been using his communication with Page to try to discredit Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia.
Republicans who went on television to say they were distressed by the text refused to provide the context of the message or release it to the public.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he had an “informant” who alerted him to this possible “secret society,” which he suggested had nefarious intentions against Trump.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, also suggested that the “secret society” had a plot to take down Trump. “They’re talking about a secret society right after they were talking about how depressed they were that Donald Trump won,” he said.
Aside from the “secret society” text that looks to be made in jest, Republicans have also been fuming about five months worth of missing text messages between Page and Strzok. GOP lawmakers have insinuated that the missing texts may be proof of a cover-up over the agents’ actions in the Mueller investigation.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who has been waging a campaign to get Trump to fire Mueller, went on CNN to decry the fact that a large swath of texts between Page and Strzok went missing after their talk about the “secret society.” Gaetz called it the “biggest coincidence since immaculate conception.”
However, it was revealed on Wednesday that thousands of FBI cellphones were affected by the same technical glitch that erased cell phone text records of agents — not just Strzok and Page’s phones — blowing a major hole in the Republican argument of a cover-up.
The Republican-fueled brouhaha over the text messages comes as Mueller’s probe moves in on Trump. His team now wants to interview Trump, and the president’s lawyers are working out an agreement about whether the interview will be in person or via written questions.
Trump, however, told reporters Wednesday night that he is willing to testify under oath.
“I’m looking forward to it, actually,” Trump said in an impromptu press conference, according to the New York Times.
Trump went on to say, again, that there was no “collusion” between his campaign and Russia, and that he won because he was a better candidate than Hillary Clinton.
“The fact is, you people won’t say this, but I’ll say it: I was a much better candidate than her,” Trump said. “You always say she was a bad candidate; you never say I was a good candidate. I was one of the greatest candidates.”