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Turns out that the “secret society” that has conservatives wondering whether there was an organized attempt to undermine President Donald Trump may have just been a throw-away joke.
Conservative media has been ablaze over supposed text messages between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and senior FBI agent Peter Strzok after Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) suggested that the texts showed that the two agents, who were having an affair, considered having a “first meeting” of a “secret society.” Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said the texts seemed to be linked to a whistleblower who told lawmakers there were “secret off-site meetings” with numerous high-level FBI agents.
The “secret society” texts come as Republican lawmakers continue to try and cast doubt around the integrity of the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But, as it turns out, a copy of the text obtained by ABC News appears to show that the reference to a “secret society” was made in jest.
“Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society,” Page wrote to Strzok.
There were no other ties to other messages obtained by the news outlet.
Strzok was removed from Mueller’s investigation following the discovery of initial anti-Trump texts between him and Page. Page worked briefly for Mueller’s investigation and was removed before the discovery of the texts was made public.
The fervor around the “secret society” texts coincided with the FBI announcing they could not find five months of text messages between Strzok and Page, roughly between December 2016 and May 2017. The glitch that caused this reportedly occurred in one out of every 10 FBI phones. Conservatives rallied behind a hashtag, #FindTheTexts, which when combined with the “secret society” suggestion, created talks of a vast conspiracy against Trump.
Trump weighed in on the missing texts on Wednesday night, asking where the “50,000 important text messages” went.
You can read all of ABC News’ report here.
Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).