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Lisa Page Of FBI Text Message Fame Is Back (And She’s Not Happy)

If there is a lesson in Page’s experience, it is that hidden secrets often come to light.

Lisa Page, the former paramour of dismissed FBI agent Peter Strzok, is back and she’s not happy. Page became a household name among Republicans for her thousands of text messages exchanged with Strzok which became prima facie evidence of an alleged government conspiracy to prevent Donald Trump from winning the election. She returned to the limelight over the weekend with a new interview in The Daily Beast.

Page, who was herself an attorney for the FBI until May 2018, has not made a public statement since the scandal of her text messages and affair with Peter Strzok broke. She says that Trump’s “demeaning fake orgasm [at an Oct. 11 rally in Minneapolis] was really the straw that broke the camel’s back” and spurred her to speak publicly about her experience. After being separated from the FBI for 18 months, Page now has more freedom to speak publicly.

“I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” Page said. “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back.”

Page said that the president’s continuing use of her as a punching bag has taken an emotional toll. “It’s almost impossible to describe” what it’s like, she lamented. “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.”

“But it’s also very intimidating because he’s still the president of the United States,” she continued. “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.”

Page, who grew up in California and Ohio, was selected for a Department of Justice Honors Program in 2006 after graduating from law school. She was a federal prosecutor for six years before taking a job in the FBI’s general counsel office.

“I start [in the role] in early 2013, and there are two big events that kind of set the trajectory for the rest of my career at the FBI: the Boston bombing in April 2013 and Edward Snowden’s leaks in June of the same year,” she said. “And those are both significant in their own ways because the Boston bombing introduces me to Andy McCabe, who at the time was the head of the counterterrorism division at the FBI. Two months later, the Snowden leaks hit, which became a transformative moment for the intelligence community, setting off a series of reforms by the Obama administration with respect to the legal authorities that we rely on to collect intelligence.”

She eventually became special counsel to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, working on a number of high-profile cases including the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Of that investigation she said, “We know there’s not a person on the FBI team or the DOJ team who thinks this is not the right result. There is no case to be brought here.”

Then “there are two things that happen in the late summer of 2016,” Page said. “The first, of course, is that the FBI gets the predication, which starts the Russian investigation. We learn about the possibility that there’s someone on the Trump campaign coordinating with the Russian government in the release of emails, which will damage the Clinton campaign.”

Trump associate Roger Stone was convicted last month of lying to Congress and attempting to mislead investigators about his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. It seems that Stone was the person on the Trump campaign who was coordinating with the Russians through WikiLeaks, although Stone may not have known that he was being used by the Russians.

Page stressed that Donald Trump himself was not a subject of the investigation, telling the interviewer, “We were very deliberate and conservative about who we first opened on because we recognized how sensitive a situation it was. So, the prospect that we were spying on the campaign or even investigating candidate Trump himself is just false. That’s not what we were doing.”

She called Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey “a devastating moment at the FBI.”

“Yes, it was totally within the authority of the president, but it was unprecedented and unimaginable given the circumstances,” Page said. “The president fired him with the knowledge that, of course, we were investigating Russian contacts with his campaign. I mean, it just gave the aura of an obstructive effort.”

Through all this, none of us would likely have heard of Lisa Page if it were not for her text messages. She related, “At the end of July in 2017, I am informed by the DOJ Inspector General’s Office that I’m under investigation for political text messages and honestly, I have no idea what they’re talking about. I have no recollection. And initially, they’re very coy about it. They don’t tell me much about it. I don’t have the first clue what they’re talking about. What I do know is that my text messages will reveal that I had previously had an affair. I’m overwhelmed by dread and embarrassment at the prospect that OIG investigators, Andy, and my colleagues, now know or could learn about this deeply personal secret.”

But Page denied that the text messages represented illegal activity. “I know I’m nowhere close to” a violation of the Hatch Act, she said. And, as a lawyer, she should have an accurate idea of legal requirements.

“I don’t engage in any sort of partisan politicking at all,” Page said, “But having an opinion and sharing that opinion publicly or privately with another person is squarely within the permissible bounds of the Hatch Act. It’s in the regs. Yeah, it says it plainly. I’m thinking, I know I’m a federal employee, but I retain my First Amendment rights. So, I’m really not all that worried about it.”

Then, in December 2017, the Trump Administration released the text messages between Page and Strzok. Since then, mockery of the couple, including mentions in presidential tweets and speeches, has continued almost nonstop.

“So now I have to deal with the aftermath of having the most wrong thing I’ve ever done in my life become public,” Page said.

While the notoriety for her indiscretion has made Page’s life difficult, she may end up having the last laugh. Page is still married to her husband and, although she is no longer with the FBI, she was neither fired nor prosecuted. She resigned voluntarily and expects to be cleared of wrongdoing in the upcoming inspector general report on the origins of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia, which is due to be released this week. Leaks regarding the report, which has been in Attorney General Barr’s hands since September as it was in its draft stages, indicate that Page will be exonerated on allegations of unprofessionally allowing her biases against Trump to compromise the investigation.

Of course, Page’s affair with her coworker was unprofessional, but the IG seems to have determined that the text messages between two lovers had no bearing on the investigation. And, anyway, in this spat, maybe he who is without extramarital affairs should cast the first stone.

“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,” Page told the interviewer. “The president has a very loud megaphone.”

The president’s treatment of Page and other women may be part of the reason for Mr. Trump’s growing unpopularity with female voters as well. Although never popular with women voters, President Trump’s approval rating with women fell to 33 percent in a CNN poll last week. The same poll showed that 61 percent of women believed that President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

If there is a lesson in Page’s experience, it is that hidden secrets often come to light. Deeds committed in the dark, even if they aren’t illegal, can often lead to years of pain and shame when revealed. Avoiding immorality, not just illegal acts, can prevent seemingly endless pain and suffering.

But what may be worse for Page than her personal suffering is seeing the negative effects of her actions on the FBI. Her text messages have been used to hammer the agency that she loves and respects.

“It’s very painful to see to places like the FBI and the Department of Justice that represent so much of what is excellent about this country, not fulfilling the critical obligation that they have to speak truth to power,” Page said. “It’s crushing to see the noble Justice Department, my Justice Department, the place I grew up in, feel like it’s abandoned its principles of truth and independence.”

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