President Donald Trump tweeted out a blatantly false claim intended to undermine the federal investigation of his campaign ties to Russia.
The president and his attorney Rudy Giuliani each passed along bogus claims that 19,000 texts between two former FBI officials had been destroyed by investigators -- which contradicted new findings by the Justice Department's inspector general.
"How can Mueller’s gang get away with erasing over 19,000 texts of Trump haters Stroyk and Page?" Giuliani tweeted early Saturday, misspelling former FBI agent Peter Strzok's last name. "They say it was DOJ policy to destroy evidence? I guess Mueller’s angry Democrats fall under the Hillary exception to obstruction of justice. She erased over 30,000 emails."
How can Mueller’s gang get away with erasing over 19,000 texts of Trump haters Stroyk and Page? They say it was DOJ… https://t.co/JtBi4rV3co— Rudy W. Giuliani (@Rudy W. Giuliani) 1544853645.0
Giuliani continued tweeting misleading claims about the story, citing conservative media reports, throughout Saturday morning, and then Trump chimed in.
"Wow, 19,000 Texts between Lisa Page and her lover, Peter S of the FBI, in charge of the Russia Hoax, were just reported as being wiped clean and gone," Trump tweeted, taking a pass on spelling out Strzok's name. "Such a big story that will never be covered by the Fake News. Witch Hunt!"
Wow, 19,000 Texts between Lisa Page and her lover, Peter S of the FBI, in charge of the Russia Hoax, were just repo… https://t.co/KpxT8JjMwQ— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1544892312.0
In fact, the Justice Department's watchdog has found no evidence law enforcement officials intentionally destroyed text messages -- which were ultimately recovered by the FBI.
Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation after text messages expressing anti-Trump views were discovered, and he was ultimately fired by the FBI and Page, his colleague and girlfriend, resigned.