The Justice Department's Inspector General has informed lawmakers that a trove of missing text messages exchanged between FBI employees has been recovered.
The messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page are of particular interest to Republicans who believe there is an anti-Donald Trump bias at the FBI. Strzok, who was romantically involved with Page, was a member of the FBI team investigating Hillary Clinton's email server and, later, a member of Robert Mueller's special counsel operation looking into Russia's attempt to interfere in the 2016 election.
In a letter to lawmakers on Thursday, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote that this week his office was able to recover texts sent between Strzok and Page over a five-month span from December 2016 to May 2017.
"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, which was provided to CNN by the office of Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin.
The gap in the exchange -- between top FBI officials who have come under fire for criticizing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump -- was revealed to lawmakers by the Justice Department as it produced a second batch of the pair's text messages to six congressional committees over the weekend.
Trump has called the matter "one of the biggest stories in a long time," and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised to "leave no stone unturned" in an investigation to determine how the messages, sent on bureau-issued phones, were not collected by the FBI's retention software.
Strzok was reassigned to the FBI's human resources office after the discovery of the messages, which, according to copies viewed by CNN, included insults lobbed at politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Page was also briefly on Mueller's team before returning to the FBI, but she completed her detail before the special counsel's office was made aware of the texts.