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President Donald Trump. Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that he thinks “one of the biggest stories in a long time” is that “the FBI now says it is missing five months worth of lovers Strzok-Page texts, perhaps 50,000, and all in prime time. Wow!”

Why Trump’s tweet isn’t surprising: Trump and Republican lawmakers have pointed to anti-Trump texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page as signs of “manifest bias” against Trump in the FBI. Trump has accused Strzok, with no evidence, of treason. Trump is just continuing that line of defense now.

  • The texts got Strzok booted last summer off the Special Counsel’s probe into whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • For the duration of a five-month period that ended the day a special counsel was appointed to handle the Trump-Russia probe, the FBI didn’t retain texts between Strzok and Page, according to Republican Senator Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
  • Johnson requested the FBI explain why it didn’t preserve the texts. The FBI has previously said some texts weren’t retained due to a misconfiguration of software updates.
  • The DOJ Inspector General is looking into Strzok and Page’s behavior.
  • Strzok also worked on the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails, which ultimately did not press charges under Comey’s leadership.

According to the texts...

  • Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch knew before former FBI Director Jim Comey’s press conference that he wouldn’t recommend charges against Clinton.
  • Comey and Lynch knew Clinton wouldn’t face charges before she interviewed with the FBI.
  • Comey’s statement recommending no charges for Clinton originally included more damaging language than was later included.
  • Republican circles, including Rep. Trey Gowdy and Rep. John Ratcliffe, are raising questions over an anti-Trump "secret society" reportedly referenced in the Strzok-Page texts that indicate there may have been a meeting the day after Trump got elected.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Page and Strzok showed signs that they were avoiding tracing by texting about FBI matters.
  • The Hill reported that the texts prompted Senate and House congressional investigations into leaks, which got Drudged. That report "was used as fodder for a narrative that Trump-hating FBI agents had leaked information to hurt the then-Republican candidate," Reilly and Baumann write.

Yes, but: It "doesn’t make a lot of sense on its face" that Strzok and Page were out to get Trump, HuffPost's Ryan Reilly and Nick Baumann wrote last week in a deep dive on the FBI agent text messages. "Most of the information that came out of the bureau during the election was damaging to Hillary Clinton, not Trump. And Page...and Strzok...exchanged texts slamming politicians and officials of all ideological stripes, not just Trump."

  • Republican Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN he thinks the missing texts were just a technical error and that the FBI has been cooperating with congressional requests.
  • Trump's tweet is a little misleading regarding the figure he cites, per the AP: "The Justice Department says that [50,000 texts is] the overall number of messages found on FBI servers."

Go deeper

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 6 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."