The federal judge who recused himself from the Michael Flynn case is personal friends with Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who conducted the White House interview in which the former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying.
The friendship between Strzok and Rudolph Contreras, a judge on the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., is discussed in text messages the FBI agent exchanged with his mistress, Lisa Page.
The Justice Department redacted the references to Contreras in 384 pages of text messages provided to Congress. Congressional investigators read the underlying documents and have filled in some of the gaps. The unredacted versions of the texts were obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Now, two Republican lawmakers are questioning the DOJ’s handling of the text messages and also asking if Contreras’ recusal is tied to his friendship with Strzok.
In the texts, exchanged on July 25, 2016, Strzok refers to Contreras, an Obama appointee, as his friend. He also appears to acknowledge that the relationship could cause conflicts of interest warranting recusal.
Two months before the exchange, Contreras was appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). As the FBI’s deputy chief of counterintelligence at the time, many of Strzok’s investigations went through FISC.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican, posed two “fundamental” questions raised by the text messages: “Why did [DOJ] make it hard for us to figure this out? Why did Contreras ultimately recuse himself?”