Sen. Ron Johnson said Tuesday an informant has told lawmakers a "secret society" existed within the FBI that held clandestine meetings — a jaw-dropping allegation suggesting potential corruption "at the highest levels."
In his bombshell claim to Fox News' "Special Report with Bret Baier," the Wisconsin Republican said he was "suspicious" about five months' worth of missing texts between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — and charged special counsel Robert Mueller is "in no position" to conduct the current probe of Russian influence in the 2016 election.
"What this is all about is further evidence of corruption, more than bias," he said. "Corruption of the highest levels of the FBI. The secret society — we have an informant talking about a group that was holding secret meetings off-site.
"There is so much smoke here."
Baier, who seemed taken aback, replied, "Let's stop there. Secret society? Secret meetings off-site of the Justice Department? You have an informant saying that?"
"Yes," Johnson replied, adding: "We have to dig into it . . . This is bias, potentially corruption, at the highest levels of the FBI. Robert Mueller used to run the FBI. He's in no position to do an investigation over this kind of misconduct.
"I think at this point, we probably should be looking at a special counsel to undertake this investigation. Congress is going to have to continue to dig."
The five-month period of missing Strzok and Page texts covers a period of time that includes President Donald Trump's inauguration, the firings of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey, and the appointment of Mueller as a special prosecutor.
Last month, the Justice Department released hundreds of their texts covering the early months of 2016. Both served for a short period of time on Mueller's team, with Page leaving over the summer and Strzok being reassigned late last year to the FBI's human resources division after the discovery of the exchanges with Page.
Johnson's charge was not the first time the claim of a "secret society" surfaced. On Monday night, Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, also referenced the possibility of secret meetings during an interview with Fox News' Martha MacCallum.
"We learned today about information that in the immediate aftermath of [Trump's] election, that there may have been a secret society of folks within the Department of Justice and the FBI — to include Page and Strzok — that would be working against him," Ratcliffe said.
"I'm not saying that actually happened, but when folks speak in those terms, they need to come forward to explain the context with which they used those terms," he added.
Gowdy said the "secret society" reference occurred the day after Trump won the presidential election in November 2016.
"There's a text exchange between these two FBI agents, these two supposed to be objective fact-centric FBI agents, saying that perhaps this is the first meeting of the ‘secret society,'" Gowdy said.
"So of course I'm going to want to know what secret society you're talking about because you're supposed to be investigating objectively the person who just won the Electoral College; so yeah I'm going to want to know," he said.
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