One of the many questions that has cropped up in the wake of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’ report on the FBI is how the most damning text message in the report was only discovered last month after an exhaustive search. IG Horowitz explained the process in detail to Sen. Mike Lee of Utah during his congressional testimony.
“The initial batch was easy,” Horowitz said, adding, “They were with the FBI. We requested them. The latter part of this over the last six months or so was challenging.”
Horowitz continued, “When they were produced by the FBI it turned out there was a period during which, about four to six months…where there were no text messages produced to us. It turned out there was a…failure in their collection software.”
Horowitz then obtained the two phones used by Strzok and Page, both of which were agency phones. He then went through a series of steps, starting with trying to recover data using tools his office had available. After that, he used a private contractor and was able to extract more missing texts.
“We then went to the department of defense and asked them if they had additional tools,” Horowitz said. They did and by using those Horowitz was able to turn up more missing texts in May. Horowitz’ forensic examiners then went through a quality control check on the final step of the recovery effort and discovered “that the phone had a database on it that was actually also doing a collection of text messages.”
It was only when they extracted the messages from that previously unseen database that they discovered “the second part of the August 8th text ‘No, no, we’ll stop it.’” “That was found in early May because of that 4th effort to extract information from the phone,” Horowitz said. The FBI had never found the database with that most-damning text in it. At least that’s what the FBI told Horowitz.
It seems some of the messages were easy to retrieve and others were harder but this most-damning message only turned up in another database entirely, one the FBI didn’t know about. Of course, this raises additional questions, starting with this one: Who erased the message from the other database on the phone? It seems that, if not for this other database, the “we’ll stop it” text would never have been found, even with the use of military grade recovery software. How is that possible?
And here’s the question that follows from that one: If someone did go through a lot of effort to erase this particular text, does that show they had a consciousness of guilt about what it said? I mean, can it really be a coincidence that this particular text is the hardest one to find? I guess it’s possible but it seems suspicious. It makes me wonder if the only reason we have this particular damning text is that the FBI, or someone working there, really didn’t know about this other database.