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Department of Justice dodges questions about release of politically-charged FBI text messages

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The Department of Justice is stonewalling Business Insider political correspondent Natasha Bertrand’s questions on the release of text messages between FBI career employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

Less than 4 percent of the text messages were released to the public and Congress.

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“The Justice Department recently released 375 text messages to Congress and the press that were exchanged between two career FBI employees — Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — during the presidential election,” Bertrand explained. “But the department has failed to disclose a significant lingering question stemming from that release: how it chose which texts, of the more than 10,000 the department obtained over the summer, to unveil publicly.

“Nor has it released additional messages that could provide context to the ones that were shared with lawmakers and reporters last week,” noted Bertrand, who is also a MSNBC contributor.

The Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, did not return Bertrand’s request for comment. Bertrand has reported previously on DOJ’s secret release to reporters, that DOJ claims the text messages “were not authorized” for release and additionally that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz claims the department did not consult OIG prior to the release.

Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General William Yeomans questioned whether DOJ “selectively released only the most inculpatory texts.”

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“In my experience, it is highly unusual to release raw evidence in an ongoing investigation,” Yeomans told Business Insider on Wednesday. “Avoiding the premature release of information is important as a matter of fairness to those involved in the investigation.”

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In the absence of comment on the process, Betrand wonders if the lack of transparency may be hiding a simple explanation.

“There is another plausible explanation for the texts, however, when all relevant context is taken into consideration. Page could have been suggesting how Strzok could hide their extramarital affair from his wife and plausibly explain why he was frequently texting on his government-issued phone,” Bertrand noted. “Releasing the messages that preceded and followed Page’s text could shed more light on what she meant. The DOJ — which said it released the texts to reporters in an effort to be transparent with the press — has not responded to requests from Business Insider for either the context of the conversation or an explanation for why that context was not provided.”

Critics of the selective release worry it could harm the FBI and DOJ.

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“This episode is especially troubling because DOJ generally goes to great lengths to protect its career attorneys and FBI agents from political interference, including this kind of premature exposure that foreseeably resulted in very visible embarrassment to agents and the FBI,” Yeoman’s explained. “Nothing is worse for morale and more likely to chill neutral and aggressive law enforcement than hanging agents and attorneys out to dry.”

In outing the two career FBI employees for being political, DOJ may have inadvertently revealed their own political schenanigans.

Yeoman explained that, “giving the texts directly to the press is an unusual step that is inconsistent with law enforcement norms and raises concerns that the purpose was political.”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?

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The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.

"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.

The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."

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White nationalist Republican ridiculed after only 2 people show up for his town hall meeting

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Embattled Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suffered further humiliation on Saturday when only two people showed up for his town hall meeting with Iowa constituents.

King, who was stripped of all committee assignments for his white nationalism, was been an embarrassment for Republicans with his constant racism and misogyny.

A photo of the town hall meeting was posted on Twitter by Reuters photo editor Corinne Perkins.

https://twitter.com/corinne_perkins/status/1162806565109473280

Rep. King was quickly mocked in the comments.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/sedespres/status/1162811223186006018

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2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

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Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

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