As America awaits the inspector general report into whether or not the FBI abused its power by investigating potential collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, a key figure in that drama has stepped forward. In an interview with the Daily Beast published Sunday evening, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page insisted that she committed no crimes and she predicted that the report should exonerate her. Yet the Obama administration’s pursuit of the Trump-Russia investigation stinks to high heaven, regardless of her denials.
Page became notorious for text messages she sent to FBI agent Peter Strzok, with whom she was having an affair. Both were involved in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and in the Trump-Russia investigation. In the text messages, Strzok promised, “we’ll stop” Trump from getting elected. They also discussed an “insurance policy” should Trump get elected, anyway.
President Trump has repeatedly mocked Page and Strzok, and he has suggested that the former FBI lawyer committed treason. The Daily Beast interview cast Page as a victim of Trump’s misogyny and harassment, agreeing with her suggestion that she did nothing wrong — besides the illicit affair (Page is still married to her husband and has small children).
In the interview, she claimed she decided to speak out because Trump seemed to act out an orgasm in mentioning her and Strzok in an October rally. It seems more likely she spoke out in advance of the IG report, which will be released on December 9.
“Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Page said. “But it’s also very intimidating because he’s still the president of the United States. And when the president accuses you of treason by name, despite the fact that I know there’s no fathomable way that I have committed any crime at all, let alone treason, he’s still somebody in a position to actually do something about that. To try to further destroy my life. It never goes away or stops, even when he’s not publicly attacking me.”
It is indeed tragic that Page’s affair with Strzok has been revealed to the world. Her husband and children do not deserve the shame and embarrassment of this revelation. Trump’s repeated mockery is also excessive. The Daily Beast’s Molly Jong-Fast cast the former FBI lawyer as a victim of the “MAGA meat grinder.”
“It’s almost impossible to describe” what it’s like, Page told the Daily Beast. “It’s like being punched in the gut. My heart drops to my stomach when I realize he has tweeted about me again. The president of the United States is calling me names to the entire world. He’s demeaning me and my career. It’s sickening.”
Yet the interview presents Page as an innocent victim, obscuring the real story of the Trump-Russia investigation.
The former FBI lawyer cannot deny her bitter animosity against Trump during the 2016 campaign, as revealed in her notorious text messages. She continued to insist, however, that her personal political opinions had no bearing on her work.
“While it would be nice to have the IG confirm publicly that my personal opinions had absolutely no bearing on the course of the Russia investigations, I don’t kid myself that the fact will matter very much for a lot of people. The president has a very loud megaphone,” Page said.
Andrew McCarthy’s book Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency lays out the case for nefarious action on the part of the FBI. The bureau has claimed, over and over again, that neither Trump nor his campaign were the target of the Russia investigation, but the very actions of the investigation belie this falsehood. If Trump were not the target, why did the FBI not approach him and warn him about the supposedly nefarious actions of members of his campaign? The bureau seems to have suspected that Trump himself was in on the scheme.
Furthermore, the claims of collusion have completely fallen apart. The FBI investigation was predicated on the “salacious and unverified” Steele dossier and on reports that marginal members of the Trump campaign such as George Papadopoulos had met with figures who falsely claimed to have influence in Russia. The one most damning event — the Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya — may have been orchestrated by Fusion GPS, the firm the Clinton campaign paid to create the Trump dossier.
Whether or not Page took any specific actions that violated the law, the entire investigation into the Trump campaign was based on suspicions about the Republican candidate that turned out to be baseless. Russian actors did attempt to influence the 2016 campaign through social media advertising, but their meddling aimed at dividing Americans, not supporting Trump. Most of the ads ran after the election.
Furthermore, Page herself repeatedly sent messages warning her superiors not to pressure Hillary Clinton too much during Clinton’s interview about her email server. “She might be our next president. The last thing we need is us going in there loaded for bear, when it is not operationally necessary. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi? This is as much about reputational protection as anything,” the FBI lawyer texted.
Page later claimed this advice had more to do with bringing fewer agents into the interview, but even so the text reveals her mindset at the time — Clinton was going to be president, and the FBI needed to act accordingly. Meanwhile, Trump was considered somehow complicit with Russia, so there was no need to warn him about potential Russian involvement in his campaign.
The Daily Beast’s Molly Jong-Fast presented the Clinton investigation as a distraction and the Trump-Russia investigation as a serious attempt to protect American democracy from a dangerous threat.
“But her emails” would soon give way to an actual threat to national security, one that existed not in the fever dreams of Fox News and the Breitbart comments section, but in the real, dangerous world the FBI exists to protect us from, where things like foreign meddling in our elections takes place: strong evidence of Russian interference in the election on behalf of Trump.
Jong-Fast wrote this after Robert Mueller’s report showed that there was no “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, and after Mueller’s pathetic testimony.
After years of hype, the Trump-Russia narrative went bust. All this despite the FBI applying for FISA warrants for surveillance on members of the Trump campaign, a media circus complete with leaks from inside the Intelligence Community, and the pall of investigation weakening Trump’s ability to achieve his goals as president.
Page and her family have indeed been subjected to undue mockery from Trump, but the former FBI lawyer is far from innocent. The American people need answers as to why the Obama administration pursued Trump-Russia, why the FBI did not alert Trump to this investigation, and whether Strzok and Page enacted their plans to hamper the Republican before and after his election in 2016.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.