Sean Hannity’s bombshell about Peter Strzok and Lisa Page looking to spy on the White House included speculation about Vice President Pence’s former chief aide, Joshua Pitcock. He has since responded.
The story began with a letter. Sens. Grassley and Johnson sent a letter to the Attorney General asking for more information about a text exchange that could be interpreted as the pair wanting to develop assets to spy on the White House for them.
Independent reporter Sara Carter suggested that the asset Strzok-Page wanted to develop was the wife of Vice President Pence’s chief aide, Joshua Pitcock. Mr. Pitcock has come out fighting mad with a powerful statement denying it.
Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) sent a letter to Attorney General William P. Barr this week requesting more information about the text messages in question.
The full exchange is posted below, but one paragraph that jumped out at them included the mention of a “CI guy” [counterintelligence]:
“He can assess if [there] are any [new] Qs” — presumably “questions” — “or different demeanor,” he wrote, apparently referring to the “CI guy.” “If Katie’s husband is there, he can see if there are people we can develop for potential relationships.”
It sounds like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were possibly attempting to develop assets within the Oval Office to spy on the President.
Grassley and Johnson note in their letter that “[t]he nature of these communications and the precise purpose of any attempts to ‘develop relationships’ with Trump or Pence transition team staff are not immediately clear.”
“Were these efforts done to gain better communication between the respective parties, or were the briefings used as intelligence gathering operations? Further, did any such surveillance activities continue beyond the inauguration, and in the event they did, were those activities subject to proper predication,” the letter states. “Any improper FBI surveillance activities that were conducted before or after the 2016 election must be brought to light and properly addressed.”
The question also becomes who is “Katie?”
THE FOX REPORT
The Fox News’s report on the letter with reporters Catherine Herridge and Gregg Re noted that the nature of the meeting itself wasn’t clear. There could be a very different explanation.
Hannity made it a point in his show and he read a lot into it, trying to solve the question without some key information. “We have new texts from November of 2016 from Strzok and Page showing the pair had discussed attempts to recruit sources from within your White House to spy on your administration and reveal that they have one particular contact within the White House: The vice president’s chief of staff whose wife was working as an analyst for Strzok on the FBI investigation on Hillary’s private server.”
It was a leap.
At her site, independent reporter Sara Carter noted a potential connection to Vice President Pence: His former chief of staff Joshua Pitcock is married to a woman named Katherine who, Carter says, is the “Katie” mentioned by Strzok. She is a CI at the FBI.
It’s not clear, however, that this is the Katie.
Pitcock issued a statement denying that he or his wife were involved in any “spying.” His wife had been recused the entire time.
The full statement:
VP PENCE AND PRESIDENT TRUMP REACTED
Vice President Pence had a stern reaction to the ongoing rumors. His statement said, “I was deeply offended to learn that two disgraced FBI agents considered infiltrating our transition team by sending a counterintelligence agent to one of my very first intelligence briefings only 9 days after the election. This is an outrage and only underscores why we need to get to the bottom of how this investigation started in the first place. The American people have a right to what happened and if these two agents broke the law and ignored long-standing DOJ policies, they must be held accountable.”
Thursday on “Hannity,” President Trump stated that the messages are “very disconcerting.”
We obtained the statement from Mr. Pitcock and Vice President Pence via Axios.
THE FULL STRZOK-PAGE EXCHANGE
A few weeks after the presidential election, Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page discussed the logistics for the presidential briefing for the transition team. Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page said the following:
Strzok: Talking with Bill. Do we want Joe to go with Evanina instead of Charli for a variety of reasons?
(Strzok is referring to former FBI Assistant Director of Counterintelligence division Bill Priestap. ‘Joe is referencing FBI Special Agent Joe Pientka, who interviewed former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in January 2017. And Evanina is in reference to William Evanina, National Counterintelligence, and Security Center.)
Page: Hmm. Not sure. Would it be unusual to have [sic] show up again? Maybe another agent from the team?
Strzok: Or, he’s “the CI guy.” Same.might [sic] make sense. He can assess if there [sic] are any news [sic] Qs, or different demeanor. If Katie’s husband is there, he can see if there are people we can develop for potential relationships
Page: Should I ask Andy about it? Or Bill (Priestap) want to reach out for Andy (McCabe)?Strzok: I told him I’m sure we could ask you to make the swap if we thought it.