Well, that clears that up.

Courtesy of Politico

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized the release to the media of text messages between two highly placed FBI employees who exchanged criticism of then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Justice Department has revealed in a new court filing.

Rosenstein also said in the court filing submitted shortly before midnight Friday that he made the decision to share the messages with the press in part to protect FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page from unfair criticism

In the messages, Strzok and Page regularly disparaged Trump and appeared to seek to reassure each other he could not be elected. Both called Trump an “idiot” and said Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton deserved to win.

The texts also included murky discussions of an “insurance policy” to guard against Trump’s election. Trump backers have interpreted the reference as a plan to use the then-ongoing investigation into ties between Trump advisers and Russia as way to prevent him from taking office or undermine his presidency, but Strzok and Page have denied any such intent.

Considering how these text messages were weaponized by Trump and his Republican cohorts it at first seemed that Rosenstein made a huge tactical error. 

However a little further down in the article in his explanation of what he was dealing with at the time:

In a formal declaration submitted as part of the government’s defense to Strzok’s suit, Rosenstein owned up to being the one who made the call. He said he did so in part because the texts’ public release by members of Congress was inevitable in connection with testimony he was set to give to the House Judiciary Committee the following day.

“With the express understanding that it would not violate the Privacy Act and that the text messages would become public by the next day in any event, I authorized [Justice’s Office of Public Affairs] to disclose to the news media the text messages that were being disclosed to Congressional committees,” Rosenstein wrote in a five-page statement signed Friday.

……..

Rosenstein, who stepped down from his position as Justice’s No. 2 official last May, said in his new submission that his aides initially suggested he might want to delay sending the texts to Congress until after his House testimony. But the veteran prosecutor said he concluded it would be “inappropriate” to hold them back, even briefly, for that reason.

Rosenstein also said he decided to give the messages to the media before his testimony because of concerns that they would be cherrypicked in a manner that could be detrimental to the Justice Department, as well as Strzok and Page.

“The Department’s Office of Public Affairs … recommended providing the text messages to the media because otherwise, some congressional members and staff were expected to release them intermittently before, during and after the hearing, exacerbating the adverse publicity for Mr. Strzok, Ms. Page and the Department,” Rosenstein wrote. “Providing the most egregious messages in one package would avoid the additional harm of prolonged selective disclosures and minimize the appearance of the Department concealing information that was embarrassing to the FBI.”

Of course we are learning this in response to a lawsuit filed by Peter Strzok. 

Part of Strzok’s argument is that only about 375 text messages that were the most critical of Trump were released while there were literally thousands that also contained criticisms of other politicians and cabinet members, including Democrats, that were held back. 

His argument is that rather than protecting him and Lisa Page, what Rosenstein did put a bullseye on their back and completely uprooted their lives. 

I think he has a legitimate point.