Peter Strzok's "Insurance Policy"

Sometimes an analogy is just an analogy

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

I'm struck by the kerfuffle over a text message sent by FBI agent Peter Strzok to Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom he was apparently having an affair. The messages bash Trump and seem to favor Clinton at a time when Strzok was directing the investigation of Clinton's email server. That's very troubling, as is the fact that both participants moved to Robert Mueller's staff to investigate the President. As Justice Scalia noted, there's great risk that the people most eager to join a special prosecutor's staff are those who are burning to take down the person under investigation, and these texts certainly raise that concern.

But the President's defenders are off base when they try read conspiracy into Peter Strzok's "insurance policy" message. Talking about Trump's chances in August 2016, here's what Strzok wrote: "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office [Andy McCabe is the FBI deputy director and married to a Democratic Virginiia State Senate candidate] for that there's no way he gets elected — but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40…."

Lots of folks on the right are suggesting that "insurance policy" is some opaque but sinister Deep State code for black ops in the event of a Trump victory. A few examples:

  • Daily Caller: "'We Can't Take That Risk' — FBI Officials Discussed 'Insurance Policy' Against Trump Presidency"
  • National Review "Why Did Two FBI Officials Discuss an 'Insurance Policy' In Case of Trump's Election?"
  • Ben Shapiro's Daily Wire: "Texts From Anti-Trump FBI Agent Suggest Possible Plot To Take Down Trump Before Election"
  • Byron York: "After mysterious 'insurance policy' text, will Justice Department reveal more on FBI agent bounced from Mueller probe?"

Give me a break. Read the text again. Strzok is reacting to the argument that there's no point getting worked up because Trump is bound to lose. To which he says that the odds may be against a Trump victory but that's no reason to be complacent. Then he gives an example: The odds are very much against you dying before the age of 40, but you probably bought insurance at that age because dying with a young family would be such a disaster. It's a reasonable concern even if the event is unlikely. For the same reason, in Strzok's view, horror at the prospect of a Trump presidency is reasonable even though the prospect is remote. Could he have written it more gracefully to avoid ambiguity? Sure. But if you want to argue that, I hope you'll publish all the 2 am texts you've sent to your lovers so we have a model of the clarity that's possible.

In the meantime, chill. The texts say a lot, none of it good, about the FBI's culture and Bob Mueller's staffing choices. They say nothing about a grand plot by the Deep State.

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  1. ” I hope you’ll publish all the 2 am texts you’ve sent to your lovers ”

    That is an invitation that I am quite sure that the members of Congress will not accept.

    1. I can assure you that, while I’d shared 2 am texts with my now wife of 10 years, none of them had to do with work or politics.

  2. What did he mean when he said, “we can’t take that risk?”

    1. Sounds like an argument against complacency regarding the idea that Trump could not win.

    2. Since we cannot rely on the people, we must act to insure he does not become president.

      1. Meh. Reminds me of Trump’s “Second Amendment solution” comment. Partisans waved that away despite the fact that it alluded to assassinating HRC. But this Twitter quote, wow, total outrage. [insert eye-rolling emoji here]

    3. Exactly. Baker’s reading isn’t plausible. What is the insurance policy that they can’t risk not buying? That’s the question.

      1. There is no insurance policy that they can’t risk not buying. His analogy is that you can’t assume away a problem because it is unlikely, that’s why we purchase insurance for unlikely events. He was responding to somebody poo pooing the President’s chances of winning. Pretty prescient observation, as it turned out.

        1. It’s a 2am text, so yeah it may well be muddled. But if we were to take it literally I don’t think your interpretation (and Stewart Baker’s) holds water.

          The risk you die before you’re forty is small. You can’t assume it away. But :

          but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk

          implies you’re going to do something about that risk. Not just stare at the wall and go “Waaah !”

          You don’t say “the chances of the human race being wiped out by an asteroid are very small. But we can’t afford to take that risk” if all you plan to do is cry. You say “we can’t afford to take that risk” if you have a proposal to minimise or mitigate the risk. Star wars or whatever.

          And so : It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40?.” isn’t just pointing out the existence of a tiny risk. It points out the risk AND a path to take that may minimise or mitigate the risk.

          I repeat – it could be a poorly worded 2am text. But if we were to read it as a serious statement it is not merely a statement that a risk exists, but an indication that the risk can be managed.

    4. Exactly. The insurance part is a red herring, I agree with Baker that it’s just an analogy. But saying “we can’t take that risk” has to mean “we can’t take that risk so we have to do something about it.” Baker’s reading that it means “we can’t take that risk so we’re going to continue to worry about it” doesn’t make any sense.

      1. Up to a point Lord Copper. The insurance isn’t a red herring at all.

        1. There’s an analogy between {the risk that Trump could win} and {the risk that you could die before you’re forty}. A very small risk in each case that makes you unhappy.

        2. There’s no analogy between {the risk that Trump could win} and {taking out insurance against the risk that you could die before you’re forty.} The latter includes an action that you’re going to take to mitigate the risk, while the former doesn’t. And so :

        3. There’s an analogy between {doing something about the risk that Trump could win} and {doing something about (ie insuring against) the risk that you could die before you’re forty.}

        The sensible version of Baker’s post is just to say it’s a late night text and those aren’t drafted as legal briefs. But if it were a legal brief it would be very sinister indeed, because the analogy is not with pointing out the risk, but doing something about it.

        1. But “doing something” doesn’t mean “doing something illegal or unethical.” It could mean working to oppose Trump, or contributing to Clinton’s a campaign, or some other unspecified act. I’ve heard lots of people wonder what could be done about Trump, both during the campaign and since the election. None of them was considering anything nefarious.

          The sensible version of Baker’s post is just to say it’s a late night text and those aren’t drafted as legal briefs.

          Yes.

          1. Sure. I’m mostly arguing with the logic that insurance is a red herring.

            You’re right – the something might be something perfectly legal and ethical, not to mention Hatch Act compliant. But would, say, making a contribution to the Clinton campaign register as much of a something ? We have an unlikely disaster – a Trump win – and then a something that has an even tinier chance of mitigating it. This is not at all the same as a life insurance policy. Death before 40 is unlikely – but if the disaster strikes, your action WILL have done something useful to mitigate the effect (for your family if not for you.)

            So – stipulating that the text is to be taken seriously – it’s much more probable that the “something” was something that might have a non trivial effect on the low probability disaster . Usually one man (and his girl) are hardly going to be able to have a non trivial effect on a Presidential election. But a very few men, and their girls, who happen to be conducting an FBI investigation into matters of potentially explosive political import in the middle of a Presidential election might be in that unusual position of influence.

            Consequently when you find them chattering about doing something about the threat of a Trump victory it’s perfectly reasonable to suspect that the something is something sinister.

            So long as – remembering that we had to stipulate that the text was to be taken seriously – you don’t confuse reasonable suspicion for a smoking gun.

    5. Lets recall for a moment… IT’S A TEXT MESSAGE!!!

      How carefully do you phrase your text messages? How often do type out something slightly muddled but send it out anyway because the recipient will get its meaning?

      IF some evidence comes out that he was involved in some actual conspiracy then the text offers more evidence of that, but right now all you have picking apart the phrasing in a medium where people are notoriously bad communicators.

      My hunch is that “we can’t take that risk” is short for something like “everyone is getting complacent because they think Trump can’t win because of the EC math and he’s such an absurd candidate that voters will come to their senses, but as a country we can’t take that risk and we (as in Liberals or whatever group he identifies with) need to take the election seriously.”

      1. Actually, I plan out every character of my text messages with exquisite care, because given my fat fingers, I’m going to have to do a lot of work to enter each one.

        The bigger issue with the text messages, though, is that in another one they say, “So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about hillary because it can’t be traced”.

        Law enforcement agents communicating between each other using burner phones is not something you can dismiss as routine.

        1. Burner phones??? These were government phones issued to FBI agents, I don’t think you can make a text message more traceable than that.

          The likely reason they made those texts on their government phones is they thought the stuff they were talking about was fairly benign and not an dastardly conspiracy.

          If they actually wanted to talk about something untraceably they would have just used their voices.

          1. That might be an interesting argument if these two were not already stupid enough to be carrying on an extramarital affair in contravention of FBI regulations and endangering their security clearances using these same FBI issued phones.

          2. No, on the government phones they one time mentioned using burner phones. They’re not talking about the phone they were using then, but the one they were using for untraceable messages.

  3. Mueller fired/demoted him as soon as he became aware. How are his staffing choices an issue? Are full checks typically run on agents before they join an investigative team, or something? I suggest that the near absence of any leaks on his team speaks very highly of his staffing choices.

    1. “Mueller fired/demoted him as soon as he became aware.” Based on what? Your gut? He made it to the end of July of this year, the texts start in last May. There is no evidence Mueller dismissed him on first notice. Just like there is no evidence Ohr was reassigned until they knew the information regarding his wife was about to come out.

      1. Go bother someone else, I am not interested.

        1. haha “I can’t answer that, so I’m going to pretend you didn’t say anything!”

          1. The information is freely available if the original commenter actually decided to put a small amount of effort into a internet search. The DOJ OIG found out on 7/20/17 and requested more records on the guy. Mueller was informed on 7/27/17 and Strzok was reassigned that same day.

            1. You are attempting to reason with people who believe(d) (or claimed to) that Pres. Obama was a socialist Muslim born in Kenya. Some folks are impervious to evidence.

              1. We already know there is no reasoning with you arthur. Leave the strawman arguments to Sarcastro when he finds his way over, you’re too obvious.

              2. I’ve never heard of Reason before this move. I don’t like it at all. The commentators here aren’t very savvy, and the writers aren’t much better The writers don’t appear to be much more intellectually rigorous. A good chunk of the argumentation that I see here could have been written by a college sophomore. See this for an example: https://reason.com/archives/201…..n-control. The author is saying that politicians shouldn’t enact new gun control measures because it won’t make society any safer since it might not stop some mass killers. I am exceptionally pro-gun to the point where I believe the Second Amendment provides individuals with the right to own nukes. Even I can admit that the line of thought in the article is incredibly weak. That’s just being intellectually honest on my part. I don’t many others attempting the same.

              3. Yup, and JesseAZis at the top of the list. His additional responses in the rest of this thread are exactly why I don’t need to waste time or energy in a back-and-forth with him. As a former Old VC player, and WaPo VC lurker, I am quite familiar with his work and have no intention of playing along.

            2. Hey, look, someone with an argument! congratulations, you showed up like Otis didn’t

      2. There’s no evidence that Mueller didn’t dismiss Strzok as soon as he learned of the texts either.

        Do you really think Mueller is sitting there reading all the texts his staff exchanges in real time?

        1. Mueller kicked him off the team the day that he found out about it. It’s in the DOJ OIG report.

          1. Do you have a link to the OIG report? It’s hard to believe that nobody had any suspicions of the bias until then. Mueller also knew the OIG was investigating, someone reported it to the OIG for discovery. So did Mueller know about the suspicions prior to the OIG confirming or just when he knew the OIG was about to file the report?

            1. Congress received the texts and an additional note from the DOJ. The note said: “The Office of the Inspector General informed the Special Counsel of the existence of the enclosed text messages on or about July 27, 2017. Mr. Mueller immediately concluded that Mr. Strzok could no longer participate in the investigation, and he was removed from the team.” The actual files have not been uploaded to the congressional website yet, but they should be there by Monday. Here is a relevant portion of the hearing yesterday where Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein confirms under oath that the above statement is accurate: https://youtu.be/v6B7kuZ_oYE?t=48m3s

              Many news outlets are reporting this. If you spent a small amount of time conducting an internet search, you would find the information to be readily available.
              http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/12/…..index.html
              http://www.washingtonexaminer……le/2643321

      3. Strzok started texting his paramour using his government phone in May 2016. The DOJ OIG received his phone records on 7/20/2017, and it spent a week analyzing them. They informed Mueller on 7/27/2017; Strzok and his mistress were kicked off the team that same day.

        If you spent twenty seconds on a Google search, you’d see this information.

        1. OIG reports are generally public. So Mueller waited until the report was about to come out to create an action. Your claim is that Mueller only found out exactly on 7/27/2017… so your claim is that Mueller didn’t know the OIG was investigating which is hard to swallow. There was some reason the OIG began his investigation, was there not? There had to be some action that led to the OIG requesting text messages, was there not? Your claim is Mueller was completely ignorant to this until 7 days after a formal request was made. So you have to believe Mueller was completely ignorant to basic investigations of his team prior to being handed an OIG report.

          1. So you’re adding a third completely unsubstantiated conspiracy theory (that Mueller knew about the texts prior to the firing), to your second unsubstantiated conspiracy theory (that Strzok did *something* dastardly to Trump).

            And all of this backs up the original unsubstantiated conspiracy theory, that Mueller, a Republican, is carrying out a dishonest investigation of Trump to throw him in jail or impeach him or something because he had some kind of friendly working relationship with Comey….

            How about a plausible interpretation of events. Mueller is investigating Trump and trying to be as professional and impartial as he can. The agents working under Mueller are mostly doing the same, but they’re also human. One of them expressed personal views, which while quite common, cast doubt on his ability to perform his job in an unbiased manner. There’s no evidence he did so, but he was kicked off the team just to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

          2. “There was some reason the OIG began his investigation, was there not?”

            Yes. But it had nothing to do with suspicions of anti-Trump bias. Actually, the opposite. Hillary’s team whined so much about the fact that the FBI cost her the election that Dems demanded the IG investigate. So OIG launched an investigation, and in the course of the investigation looked at some of the communications between members of the email server investigative team, and found these texts.

          3. Congress received the texts and an additional note from the DOJ. The note said: “The Office of the Inspector General informed the Special Counsel of the existence of the enclosed text messages on or about July 27, 2017. Mr. Mueller immediately concluded that Mr. Strzok could no longer participate in the investigation, and he was removed from the team.” The actual files have not been uploaded to the congressional website yet, but they should be there by Monday. Here is a relevant portion of the hearing yesterday where Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein confirms under oath that the above statement is accurate: https://youtu.be/v6B7kuZ_oYE?t=48m3s

            Many news outlets are reporting this. If you spent a small amount of time conducting an internet search, you would find the information to be readily available.
            http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/12/…..index.html
            http://www.washingtonexaminer……le/2643321

  4. Stewart’s opinion here would seem to be a textbook argument from incredulity. He refuses to believe that the phrase “we can’t take that risk,” said among senior FBI officials (charged with investigating the person they are speaking about), is merely meant to ward off against complacency. That, however, doesn’t seem to be a natural inference given the follow up line about the insurance policy — which directly implies that some sort of action (not merely non-complacency) needs to be taken.

    1. Also from other articles, it seems the timeline of this text fits in with the first FISA applications on Trump’s team.

    2. When he sent the text message, he was not “charged with investigating the person they are speaking about”.

  5. Stewart’s opinion here would seem to be a textbook argument from incredulity. He refuses to believe that the phrase “we can’t take that risk,” said among senior FBI officials (charged with investigating the person they are speaking about), is more than merely meant to ward off against complacency, apparently because, ya know, “give me a break.” That understanding, however, doesn’t seem to be a natural inference given the follow up line about the insurance policy — which directly implies that some sort of action (not merely non-complacency) needs to be taken.

  6. I’m not following Baker’s argument. I agree completely that Strzok is writing that “in [his] view, horror at the prospect of a Trump presidency is reasonable even though the prospect is remote.” But Baker completely leaves out the rest of the text – that there was some “path” discussed in the office of the Democrat prosecutor (McCabe) because of that reasonable horror! That “path” is the insurance!

    1. It sounds like McCabe and Page were saying “don’t worry, he can’t win, so we don’t have to do x” and Strzok was saying “we can’t take that risk, we have to do x as an insurance policy.”

  7. Not sure I buy your explanation of the Insurance policy, it sure seems like they were talking about the Trump campaign at a high level of the FBI. There is also in the batch of released texts a test about using other means to avoid a trail, which is the same behavior we saw from Lerner and others under Obama. They would use Blackberry Messenger or IMs to avoid audit trails and FOIA.

  8. Stewart Baker is by far the Conspirator who is going to have the worst time at Reason.

    1. Only because David Post disappeared after going down a Media Matters hole of Trump Conspiracy theories.

    2. I can’t imagine his constant, gleeful bootlicking will go over too well.

      1. What do you consider to be his “constant, gleeful bootlicking”?

        1. The bulk of his life’s work.

          1. You’re an asswipe.

    3. It’s not like he won’t have deserved it.

    4. Why? Did he endorse Ted Cruz?

  9. I believe the words used by Strzok mean that they must take some action, not just avoid becoming complacent.

    That action is now known, and it is to spend millions of dollars on a witch hunt based upon a completely phony “dossier” in hopes of bringing Trump down (by any means necessary).

    I also believe Mueller got rid of Strzok not because of his conflict of interest but because that conflict of interest was about to become public. If Mueller got rid of every lawyer on his team with a similar conflict of interest the whole special counsel operation would have to be shut down, with Mueller disqualified.

    If the parties here were reversed, if Mueller was a Republican investigating a Democrat on the basis to a phony document you can’t imagine the earthquakes that would be shattering this country right now. A Republican Mueller would be tarnished and banned from public life forever.

    1. Mueller is a Republican.

      1. A neverTrump deep-state-establishment Republican, what’s the difference.

        1. As an aside, when I see “deep state” used non-ironically, I know it’s safe to disregard anything else in the comment.

      2. Bill Kristol, Max Boot, Rick Wilson, David Brooks, Bret Stephens, David Frum, Jennifer Rubin and Evan McMullin are also all Republicans.

        You don’t think any of them would do whatever it took, including a Deep State coup, to get rid of Trump?

        1. No. I don’t think they would.

          Why do you think that? What have any of them done other than express their dislike of Trump?

          1. And notably you can dislike someone, even a lot, and not take illegal action to rid yourself of them.

        2. They’re not really Republicans. They just say they are so that they can keep their jobs as token Republican columnists. In reality they abandoned the GOP a long time ago, assuming that they were ever part of it.

      3. Is that a New York/D.C. Republican? If so it doesn’t mean much.

        1. Yea, no kidding. Donald Trump is probably in on it, too, that filthy New York Republican.

      4. Yeah, but Trump spent most of his public life as a Democrat, so its totally believable that a committed Republican would have it in for a longtime Democrat running as a Republican.

    2. So much for “equal justice” in America. It’s BS.

  10. Sometimes an apologist is just an apologist. I don’t know whether Stewart Baker (formerly NSA and Homeland Security) has ever met Deep State shenanigans he didn’t like. He is a great advocate for reducing Americans’ expectation of privacy, corresponding to warrantless large-scale collection of our data (often through compelled and enduring partnerships between governments and corporations).

    Baker concludes that “[the texts] say nothing about a grand plot by the Deep State.”

    There doesn’t need to be a “grand plot” (whatever that means) to effect real harm. I wouldn’t call Russian facebook ads a “grand plot” but apparently that’s something we need to take seriously. When high ranking officials with political motivations find themselves at the center of investigations involving a preferred candidate and a reviled candidate, it’s pretty easy to put a thumb on the scale.

    We do not know enough to know the significance of this one text. It is awfully suggestive. Strzok is saying there needs to be some kind of “insurance policy.” Does that mean simply, “we can’t be complacent! We must have more bumper stickers!”? Maybe.

    It is a strange – not merely inelegant – analogy for indicating reasonable worry. Possessing reasonable worry about your house flooding isn’t the same as getting an insurance policy for it.

    1. “I don’t know whether Stewart Baker (formerly NSA and Homeland Security) has ever met Deep State shenanigans he didn’t like.

      Stewart Baker is the author of the famous theory that travelers’ dislike of being raped by the TSA was due to sexual performance anxiety.

      1. Huh, I didn’t realize Baker’s love of Deep State ran in a euphemistic, if not literal, direction.

        1. You never read the link in my post at the bottom? (from 2012)

    2. Russia didn’t just buy Facebook ads. They hacked the DNC and then coordinated dumps of the emails they’d recovered with Wikileaks, timed to undermine Hillary and distract from Trump’s many scandals.

      That’s pretty serious in itself, and you should be concerned lest Putin decides that he’s tired of Republicans running the show.

      But then there are numerous links between Putin, Trump, Bannon, Mercer. It’s as yet unclear to what extent the Trump campaign team actively conspired with the Russians, and to what extent they were just convenient dopes way out of their league. Flynn’s eagerness to violate the Logan Act is awfully suggestive. But that’s basically their only path to innocence, at this point: they had to have been too stupid to understand what was going on.

      1. Oh, come on, there’s no evidence the Russians hacked the DNC. Mind you, everybody including the Elbonians probably did hack the DNC, if their security was on a par with Hillary’s or the Democratic House caucus, but where’s the evidence?

        It isn’t there, because they wouldn’t let the FBI look at their servers, and, remarkably, the FBI took “No” for an answer. They do that all the time in vital national security cases, don’tcha know.

        It has been suggested that the DNC “hack” was actually an inside job. The Nation

        At the very least, taking the DNC’s word for it being a Russian hack seems a bit credulous. And that’s all the FBI did.

        1. Oh, come on, there’s no evidence the Russians hacked the DNC. Mind you, everybody including the Elbonians probably did hack the DNC, if their security was on a par with Hillary’s or the Democratic House caucus, but where’s the evidence?

          Perhaps the pertinent question to ask you would be: What would constitute satisfactory “evidence,” evidence to which you would have reasonable access, that would convince you that the DNC was, indeed, hacked?

          I’m not an FBI investigator, and I’ll wager that you’re not, either. If we’re both entitled to believe whatever we like about the matter absent there being available to us sufficient “evidence” disproving our pet theories, then there’s just no resolving the question. Personally, I defer to the intelligence agencies’ conclusions on this. Why don’t you?

          It has been suggested that the DNC “hack” was actually an inside job.

          God, you Reason hacks are awfully bad at this. Read the link you provided. The “suggestion” you’re raising now carries a hefty editor’s note all but apologizing for publishing a spurious allegation. Good job?

          1. Yes, they apologized for suggesting that it was an open and shut case, that’s all.

            What would constitute satisfactory evidence? Somebody having examined the servers who wasn’t in the employ of the DNC would have been a good start. But, like I said, the DNC said the FBI couldn’t touch them, and the FBI took “No” for an answer. And the servers have doubtless since been bleachbitted, so at this point satisfactory evidence is an impossibility.

            Just the fact that the FBI were told they couldn’t look at the servers, and accepted that in a supposed national security case, is enough to render the story we’ve been given dubious. You really think the FBI would take “No” for an answer if they though it was really Russian espionage?

            Try that the next time the FBI wants to look at your computer for evidence of Russian espionage. Tell them no.

            1. According to Donna Brazile, the servers and personal laptops in question have been destroyed. Not wiped, destroyed. Supposedly, they were “replicated” by Crowdstrike and turned over to the FBI with only nonessential stuff removed.

              https://tinyurl.com/y83k3zc7

          2. Why don’t you?

            Because Deep State! Booga Booga!

          3. “Perhaps the pertinent question to ask you would be: What would constitute satisfactory “evidence,” evidence to which you would have reasonable access, that would convince you that the DNC was, indeed, hacked?”

            You know what would make for some good evidence? Actual evidence.

            As for the “reasonable access”, also be sure to let us know when you’ve stopped moving that goalpost around.

        2. Oh, come on, there’s no evidence the Russians hacked the DNC.

          This from a guy who didn’t believe Pres. Obama was born in the United States.

          Carry on, clingers.

          1. Would you please stop lying about that?

            I know you’re going to continue, but I had to ask, just for form.

            1. Feel free to provide your side of that one.

              Please recall, before responding, that plenty of people observed what you did.

              Carry on, clingers.

              1. You’re the accuser, you’re the one who needs to provide evidence.

      2. There was a confluence of interests. Russia wanted to undermine America and its political processes any way it could. Putin didn’t care very much who won. A weakened America means a stronger Russia. That’s Russia’s working theory. Thus we saw Russian fingerprints all over the Steele “dossier” (which I believe is French for “fake news”).

        Somehow Fusion GPS had deep connections with the Russian government, Democratic lobbyists for Russia, the Clinton campaign, members of the media, and top FBA agents involved in the whole brouhaha. And out of all that, we’re told by those same people, excepting the Russians who sit back and smirk at us, that the Trump campaign was coordinating with the Russian government despite no evidence even now.

      3. Those Facebook ads are completely contradictory, designed to foment outrage. See the Pro-Anti BLM ads as an example. Claiming they were all pro Trump proves a wishful bias.

        And again, there is no evidence the DNC was hacked by Russia. They refused to hand over their servers as discussed by another poster. Wikileaks has continued to deny it was Russian agents that handed them the emails. So what evidence do you actually have other than the DNC pushing a narrative that this was what occurred?

  11. Mark Felt part two.

  12. OK, but the options are not “Deep State code for black ops in the event of a Trump victory” or nothing. The “Insurance Policy” could have been any plan designed to reduce even further the likelihood of a Trump victory.

    It’s clear that “that there’s no way he gets elected” is analogous to “you die before you’re 40.” Both are low probability but his point was that they shouldn’t be willing to accept even that small a risk. Instead, he was urging further steps: as an insurance policy is purchased for the person younger than 40, in the case of Trump some “insurance policy” was contemplated to reduce the risk of Trump’s election even further.

    Otherwise, what, to the OP, was Strzok referring to by an “insurance policy,” which was necessary because they couldn’t even take the small risk that Trump would win? It must refer to some action or policy.

    1. “[T]he options are not Deep State code for black ops in the event of a Trump victory or nothing. The ‘Insurance Policy’ could have been any plan designed to reduce even further the likelihood of a Trump victory.”

      Exactly.

      And that insurance policy plans appears to be to open an investigation into Trump and his campaign, including a FISA warrant, using the Steele dossier as legal grounds.

      Stewart calling Strzok an “FBI agent” kind of misses the point; this guy was chief of counterintelligence at the FBI. He is THE guy who would be looking into any allegation of foreign influence. From the NY Times reporting, Steele started delivering two- and three-page memos to the FBI in June 2016. So, by the time of this August 15 “Insurance Policy” text message, Strzok was certainly well aware of the allegation of Russian connections to Trump.

  13. “I hope you’ll publish all the 2 am texts you’ve sent to your lovers”

    Who texts about politics and/or FBI business at 2 am to their lover? Or to anyone really.

    Maybe he would have caught Mills and Huma’s lies about the infamous private server if he slept more.

    1. Well, you might not text about politics and business at 2AM to your lover, but you might to your co-conspirator.

      1. You might, but if you are high-ranking FBI official it might occur to you that creating a record by texting was really dumb, and you should just call instead, or better yet, wait for an opportunity for a face-to-face private conversation, which shouldn’t be too long in coming.

        “Don’t write when you can talk, don’t talk when you can whisper, don’t whisper when you can nod.”

  14. It will apparently surprise the conspiracy theorists here to know that many, many people have likely sent very similar, critical texts about Trump.

    What, exactly, is the expectation here? Hillary was the target of deeply politicized investigations about Benghazi – investigations that were openly designed to undermine her campaign – and yet we found ourselves debating the e-mail retention policies for her private server like it was a matter of high crimes and misdemeanors. So what if Mueller’s team isn’t fond of Trump? So what if they were concerned he would politicize the FBI? Why should we now make their concerns a reality? Why should we pretend that the bias behind the investigator invalidates the criminal evidence they discover? We damn near threw Clinton out of office when he misled Congress in connection with a heavily politicized investigation. That pales in comparison to what Mueller has already uncovered in Trump’s inner circle.

    1. “It will apparently surprise the conspiracy theorists here to know that many, many people have likely sent very similar, critical texts about Trump.”

      Uh huh.

      And how many people, who sent text messages to the effect that they needed to take out insurance policies in case Trump somehow won, were also chief of counterintelligence for the FBI . . . and then launched a counterintelligence operation into Trump using the FISA Court?

      Is that also common?

      1. I would expect that pulling together a team of experienced professionals to conduct an incredibly sensitive investigation into the President’s circle of advisers will require tapping quite a few intelligent people. So it’s to be expected that many of them will just not like the President and would have, during the campaign, viewed his looming candidacy and then presidency with a kind of deep dread and apprehension.

        I am not going to follow you loons down the road of parsing what this guy might have meant by talking about “insurance policies” in text messages. I will instead ask you what you think he could have done, in his role at the FBI. Plant evidence? Bribe witnesses? What? At the same time some Reason-hacks are telling me that there’s no evidence that Russia hacked the DNC, you all are jumping off the deep end with these wild theories about Strzok that don’t even cohere into an articulable narrative, much less draw support from anything we could describe as “evidence.”

        1. So sensitive that actual transcripts of calls between Trump and foreign leaders were leaked to the media? You seem to ignore all of the leaks that have been designed to hurt Trump.

          1. “Designed to hurt Trump”? That’s certainly one way of looking the incidents, but how did they hurt him? They make him look like the inept, temperamental, dangerous fool he is. But were they leaked for purpose of hurting him? There is no proof of that as of this moment. What you are doing is inserting your opinion into the context of “why” those actions occurred. Keep in mind that there is a difference between wanting to hurt Trump and wanting to sound the alarm that he is truly unfit for office or anything else.

    2. “[W]e found ourselves debating the e-mail retention policies for Hillary’s private server like it was a matter of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

      That’s an interesting description of using a private server to conduct Department of State business, before then deleting 33,000 documents, and wiping the server using BleachBit.

      1. Right. See what I mean? Do you even remember how any of that came up in the first place?

      2. Don’t forget that the guy who used BleachBit got caught lying to the FBI about it. And, instead of being charged with lying to the FBI, he was given immunity.

        1. Are you complaining that Flynn and Papadopoulos didn’t get the same treatment? I thought the goal was for everyone to get the correct treatment (charged, convicted, and sentenced) as opposed to the same treatment (immunity).

          1. ‘You were complaining when we didn’t do it to our guys, and now you’re complaining when we do do it to your guys? Sheesh.’

          2. My complaint is that they aren’t consistent. You know, that whole equal protection thingy. The hallmark of a banana republic is unequal application of the law. And, this one appears to be political in nature.

            1. Equal protection under law is different than equal protection from law.

    3. It’s not about the critical text messages. It’s about the critical texts in conjunction with ‘insurance policies’ and using a special phone ‘because it can’t be traced’.

      1. But WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN???? What were they conspiring to doooooo?????

        1. I’m not going to speculate. But, I will say that the language used, and actions taken in the Clinton investigation would suggest that some in the FBI, where in deed using their official capacity to help and or hurt presidential candidates in the last election. Which seems kind of serious to me.

        2. Well if you read one of the four right-wing links the author provided above, you’d probably find all kinds of hypotheses. Here’s the fist one I came across after clicking the first of the links:

          “Was “the path” an investigation into Trump with a lot of leaking, designed to impede his presidency from day one?”.

          Not exactly a crazy conspiracy theorist in need of medication.

  15. BTW, for those who aren’t familiar with Baker from his work on Volokh over the years, here’s his greatest hit/humiliation http://volokh.com/2012/11/24/s…..rity-line/

  16. Are these fairly ne commenters regular readers of Reason?

    Maybe the move was a mistake

    1. You have no idea.

    2. I see a lot of familiar names and I don’t see any particularly strange (for VC) comments. I’m not familiar with Reason’s raison d’etre. All I know is that I’m right. That constant keeps me going.

    3. I have never heard of Reason before this move. I don’t like it. I don’t have any problem with libertarianism, but it seems like most of the authors here aren’t very savvy. It seems like the argumentation on a lot of articles was written by a college sophomore. See this for an example: https://reason.com/archives/201…..n-control. The author is saying that politicians shouldn’t enact new gun control measures because that won’t stop some mass killers. I am exceptionally pro-gun to the point where I believe the Second Amendment provides me and everyone else the right to own our own personal nukes. Even I can admit that line of thought is weak.

      1. Oh we don’t actually read the articles here, we just comment on them.

        1. So everyone here just trolls?

    4. The comments here are usually more intelligent than those that I’ve read on Washington Post articles, but it’s the internet so some idiocy is to be expected.

  17. “The texts say a lot, none of it good, about the FBI’s culture and Bob Mueller’s staffing choices.”

    This does reflect on the “FBI’s culture and Bob Mueller’s staffing choices” but certainly not in the way that you are thinking about. As Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in his House testimony yesterday, everyone can have personal bias as long as they don’t let it appear to influence their professional conduct. When the FBI and Bob Mueller found out about the private exchanges, they cut Mr. Strzok from the team and gave him desk duty pending investigations by the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Ethics. That’s a credit to the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Special Counsel. What else should they have done?

    1. If Strzok’s emails were unremarkable from the standpoint of his being able to do his job properly, then why was he dismissed from Mueller’s team and transferred to the FBI’s human resources division?

      1. I’m still trying to figure out Reason’s comment system. I prefer the Washington Posts’s system with the exception of character limits.

        I wrote five paragraphs but they won’t post, so I just included the first. The gist is that there were three issues:

        First, the DOJ OIG was going to turn over the texts in response to a lawsuit/FOIA request. This means that the agent could no longer appear unbiased as the ethics handbook states. https://www.justice.gov/jmd/ethics-handbook

        Second, he misused government property (his cell phone). He was allowed “a minimal personal use” of it, but he went beyond that in defiance of the handbook.

        Third, he was a major counterintelligence risk. It’s not absurd to think that he?the most senior FBI counterintelligence agent?was under foreign surveillance. Given that he as a married man was having an affair with a married colleague, he had a lot of risk.

        1. Yeah, it’s just more of the same BS we kept seeing with Hillary. Mueller does nothing, texts come out, he looks bad. Mueller fires the guy, texts come out…. we’ll make Mueller look bad anyway. Mueller provides more texts and background, the House politicians will find something else to rip out of context. Mueller doesn’t… and we’ll accuse him of a cover-up.

          They did the same damn thing with Hillary. They just kept stringing things out of her until they found something. And then she lost the election and they closed the investigation.

          1. Avoiding FOIA law by using a private server to do State Department business does not look good on anyone, let alone a candidate for President.

            Period.

          2. “Mueller fires the guy, texts come out…. we’ll make Mueller look bad anyway.”

            Mueller would have looked a lot better if he disclosed why he fired Strzok in August when he was fired and the House committees asked him why he was reassigned. It was covered up then, and didn’t come out until they got Flynn to plead guilty. Those texts from Strzok and the fact he participated in Flynn’s interview would make it impossible to get a conviction if they charged Flynn in court for lying to the FBI.

            1. @Kazinski >“Mueller would have looked a lot better if he disclosed why he fired Strzok in August when he was fired and the House committees asked him why he was reassigned.”

              You do realize that’s illegal, right? That violates the Privacy Act of 1974.

            2. @Kazinski >“Mueller would have looked a lot better if he disclosed why he fired Strzok in August when he was fired and the House committees asked him why he was reassigned.”

              You do realize that’s illegal, right? That violates the Privacy Act of 1974.

              1. That’s ridiculous. Congress asked, not the press. There is nothing Congress isn’t allowed to know about the federal government, at least in executive session with proper clearance, outside what happens in the white house or the supreme court.

                You don’t really think the OIG and Rosenstein broke the law this week for disclosing it do you?

          3. She also clearly lied to the FBI when she said she didn’t understand the classification markings. As secretary of state, virtually every briefing she went to had those markings. Every document she read had those markings. On every single paragraph and every single heading. Other markings besides the (C) make it obvious they are for classification levels – (U), (S), (TS). If she didn’t know what they meant she either violated her nda with the govt by not taking/following her required training (yearly) and security briefings plus she was senile; or remarkably stupid; or she lied. She lied.

  18. I hope you’ll publish all the 2 am texts you’ve sent to your lovers

    Okay:

    That’s it.

    1. No wonder you’re bored!

  19. I think Stewart Baker is right on the money in his analysis here. Of course, even if the “insurance policy” has no alternative meaning, the fact remains that an agent in charge of investigating Trump was comparing a Trump presidency to a premature, tragic death. So, pretty safe to say that the agent is not a fan of Trump.

  20. “They say nothing about a grand plot by the Deep State.”

    B.S. You might be able to dismiss the “insurance” text as him saying there is “…no reason to be complacent”. But, the messages that have been release so far don’t exist in a vacuum. This little gem was also included in the messages that where released, “So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting, bc you feel bad that you’re gone so much but that can’t be helped right now.” Put the two messages together and they do suggest a plot. Weather it’s a ‘grand plot by the Deep State’ or 3 rouge Sr. FBI / DOJ officials, it’s still a plot. To just blow this off like so many other corruption investigation have been is very dangerous to the Republic IMHO.

  21. Caesar’s wife.

    Sorry, Federal Government, but you haven’t really been covering yourself in glory lately.

    And on the heels of revelations that GAB in WI went way off the partisan rails.

    It would be prudent to trim your powers and maybe send some DC staff to Alaska for a while, to connect back with the American people.

  22. Of course, if you play see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil then there’s nothing suspicious about it at all.

    Most of us aren’t able to stick our heads in the sand like that. First guess- the insurance policy is the cobbled up fake Steele dossier used to obtain a FISA warrant on Trump after the first was refused.

    1. Quit spamming us with conspiracy theories. Until you have actual proof about the Steele dossier being used to obtain a FISA warrant, it’s just as unproven as flying unicorns.

  23. We will find out sooner or later if the “Insurance Policy” was sinister or not. If Strzok was involved with using the DNC-Russian Fusion GPS Dossier to get a FISA warrant to start surveilling the Trump Campaign then we will know what the Insurance Policy was. Since the text was sent in August 2016 it would have between the first denied FISA warrant in June, and the October approved FISA warrant. So if facts are as indicated by the question of Gowdy and Jordan on the House Judiciary committee that both Wray and Rosenstein refused to answer then we will find out sooner or later.

    Thank God this is the government so they aren’t competent enough to engineer a decent enough cover-up to keep it from coming out. I am struck by the parallels between this “Shallow State” plotting and the #MeToo revelations about Weinstein, Lauer, etc. Knowledge of what was happening behind closed doors was so widespread that no one really took effective steps to cover it up. The public may not have been fully aware of what was going on, but everyone in Washington and Hollywood knew so what was the big deal?

    Those “2 am texts you’ve sent [between] lovers” were sent on FBI issued taxpayer paid for phones. That’s the sort of thing you’d expect from idiots working in the private sector, or on a Parks and Rec episode not something you would expect from an FBI counter intelligence expert. When I’m sending 2am texts to my multitude of lovers I’m using my private personal phone that I pay for.

  24. Are the commenters lining up behind the “deep state conspiracy theory” prepared to live with that precedent? Because my recollection from 2016 was that there was circumstantial evidence and/or widespread belief that some FBI agents did have it in for Hillary and pushed for tougher investigations/actual charges.

    The liberal conspiracy theory on election night was that Comey had to come forward and say what he did because otherwise it was going to get leaked by his own agents and undermine his reputation (even though, the theory went, there was no there there and nothing new).

    I don’t know that that was ever substantiated – but if it were to be demonstrated, it would mean that biased FBI agents would have basically thrown the election. What would be the appropriate sanction for that?

  25. Welcome to Reason, VC commenters.

    1. I can’t tell if that’s honest or sarcastic based on how we appear to be assimilating badly.
      But either way, we’ll get along! Cheers.

  26. Your dismissal is lame considering other messages:
    Lisa Page: “And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace [Trump].”
    Peter Strzok responds: “Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.”
    Indeed, your dismissal doesn’t make any sense. He didn’t make the analogy to justify doing nothing. Strzok’s point is that they “CAN’T take that risk” of doing nothing. So Strzok is admitting to doing something to sway the election or undermine the presidency.

    1. I don’t think you understand Justice Department employees. They are some of the most driven guys in the world. What I see is a girlfriend giving encouragement to her boyfriend when he’s felling blue. I don’t get any sinister meaning behind this at all.

  27. “Lots of folks on the right are suggesting that “insurance policy” is some opaque but sinister Deep State code for black ops in the event of a Trump victory. A few examples:”

    If lots of folks on the right are suggesting something, you probably should have linked to one of them. That’s some Sarcastro-level bad faith reading if you are pretending any of the four stories you linked to suggest anything of the kind.

  28. I’m actually less concerned about the “insurance” remark, than with another of the text messages which apparently refers to them using burner phones whenever they discussed Hillary: “So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about hillary because it can’t be traced”

    Not when they discussed their affair, notice. When they talked about Hillary.

    Note to “the resistance”: You don’t discuss using burner phones on your regular phone, that’s a rookie mistake.

    I wonder how many other employees of the FBI are communicating in this way, to avoid leaving an official trail? It seems to me the sort of thing an Inspector General ought to be very curious about.

  29. “The texts say a lot, none of it good, about the FBI’s culture and Bob Mueller’s staffing choices. They say nothing about a grand plot by the Deep State.”

    There doesn’t need to be a plot, just a shared mindset.

  30. The text is certainly enough to warrant investigation. After all, we are investigating the President for less.

  31. Unfortunately, one cannot decipher the meaning of message without considering other messages and the activity during the time line.

    When the timeline activities and other messages are considered, there’s strong enough circumstantial evidence that warrant investigation with regard to potential conspiracy.

    There’s no escaping that. The fact Strzok is still actively employed by the FBI and not been placed on leave pending investigation, extremely troublesome.

  32. Also, one must consider that this was not a complete view of the messages, many things were blacked out. Congress will perhaps see the missing components behind closed doors.
    No surprise if they consist of references to the dossier and it’s content, etc. Therein would be the “insurance policy.”
    This matter is far from over and I suspect will lead to poison Muellers investigation and current indictments. Also may lead to McCabe and others fall.

  33. Finally at minimum, there is a pretty clear violation of the Hatch act regarding their discussion in Andrew McCabes office. That discussion in his office was a big time No-No.

  34. Strzok texts say nothing an apparent majority of voters weren’t also thinking during the campaign.
    DJT campaign was making outrageous statements and accusations throughout the election cycle.
    The texts reveal not uncommon reactions to these statements at the time –
    no matter how hard WH45 and their allies pound the table insisting otherwise.

  35. It now looks – from the WSJ – as if the Baker explanation has been retired as hopeless, together with the “c’mon people always text random garbage” explanation.

    The new runner is that there was a “something” – the “insurance policy” was …wait for it….to get on with the existing investigation as quickly as possible rather than take it slowly and steadily.

    Let’s see whether this one makes it over the first fence.

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