The missing messages, between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that spanned from December 2016 and May 2017, were recovered, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz reportedly told lawmakers on Thursday.
“The OIG has been investigating this matter and, this week, succeeded in using forensic tools to recover text messages from FBI devices, including text messages between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page that were sent or received between December 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017,” Horowitz wrote in the letter, according to CNN.
The fervor over the missing messages started on Sunday when Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) released a letter alleging the missing messages were “concerning” because Strzok and Page, who were romantically connected, were under fire for disparaging texts about President Donald Trump.
The texts between the two have been cannon fodder for Republicans attempting to cast doubt on Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters. Strzok was reassigned from the Mueller investigation after the initial messages were discovered and Page worked on the team for a short while before leaving.
The messages were lost as part of a glitch that impacted one in 10 FBI phones.
The messages, according to Republicans, indicated an anti-Trump bias in the country’s top law enforcement agencies. The clamor for the texts became so strong #FindTheTexts was trending on Twitter earlier in the week. Many far-right media personalities and outlets thought the end date of the range of missing messages being the same day Mueller was appointed was not a coincidence.
The fire was fanned when Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Johnson made references to a “secret society” being mentioned in a message between Strzok and Page; however it appears that the message may have been a joke.
Trump himself weighed in on the missing messages several times, tweeting an open question as to where the messages might be. He also called the missing messages “one of the biggest stories in a long time.”
Right-wing Twitter users were exuberant at the news of the texts being found.
The missing text messages from a critical five-month period between Trump-bashing FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page have been located.!!!#FindTheTexts #ReleaseTheMemo #FBI https://t.co/sf3fzeBdHu— Bondi Surf ❌ (@BondiSurf) January 25, 2018
Despite their excitement, whether the texts contain anything incriminating is unknown.