Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page’s life took a complete 180 in 2017.
The one-time Justice Department rising star abruptly left her “special-counsel-type position” at the Bureau after personal text messages sent between her and her now-infamous co-worker/lover/weird-head-wagger Peter Strzok went public, effectively making her public enemy number one on President Trump’s twit list.
Page delivered her first interview on the subject to The Daily Beast over the weekend, in which she cast the past year and a half of her life as a traumatic period filled with avoiding eye contact on public transportation and crossing the street at the first whiff of a MAGA hat. She claims that Trump’s ceaseless attacks, in particular an on-stage faked orgasm back in October, gave her the courage to speak out against this unwarranted vilification and “take back [her] power.”
In one regard, and despite everything Lindsey Graham has told you this year, Page is actually correct. While the texts between her and Strzok — sent between 2015 and 2016 — certainly appear to have a clear disdain for Trump and a near-fetishization of the then-blossoming #Resistance against him, they are little more than pillow talk and fall far short of actually orchestrating a campaign to derail the Trump presidency. So yes, Trump and his supporters’ constant haranguing is just another example of political zealots overshooting the mark; desperate grasps for a smoking gun that will vindicate their side as righteous defenders of liberty from would-be Deep State usurpers. (RELATED: DOJ Report Will Describe ‘Spygate’ Professor Stefan Halper’s Contacts With Trump Campaign Advisers: Report)
Still, Page’s interview barely touches on the role she herself played in incurring the internet’s wrath. Her tryst with Strzok was “the most wrong thing [she’d] ever done in [her] life.”
“Initially they’re very coy about it,” Page said of first learning learning her texts were scooped up in an internal Justice Department investigation back in July 2017. “They don’t tell me much about it. I don’t have the first clue what they’re talking about.”
The married mother of two then noted that the personal messages included in the dragnet “will reveal that [she] had previously had an affair.”
“[She’s] overwhelmed by dread and embarrassment at the prospect that OIG investigators, [former Deputy FBI Director] Andy [McCabe], and [her] colleagues, now know or could learn about this deeply personal secret.”
The Beast noted that Strzok and Page were assured the personal texts would not be made public, but then in December 2017, The Washington Post published a full report on the investigation, damning-texts and all.
“Rod Rosenstein [then the deputy attorney general] was scheduled to testify on the Hill,” Page said of the DOJ’s about face on the texts. “And the night before his testimony, the Justice Department spokesperson, Sarah Flores, calls the beat reporters into the Justice Department. This is late at night on a weekday. Calls them in to provide a cherry-picked selection of my text messages to review and report on in advance.”
The worst part of her compatriots’ betrayal was the lack of an “opportunity to provide any context,” but that ought to be amended once DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report is made public.
If leaks from the report, not to mention Page’s own statements, are to be believed, her hands will soon be washed clean.
Page isn’t a villain. She, unlike at least one other member of FBI’s legal counsel, didn’t alter reports to illegally procure warrants and spy on the Trump campaign. There is no hard evidence to suggest she did anything close to using her professional standing to reach an anti-Trump personal goal. The only thing she’s truly guilty of is being thirsty in the digital age.
Though the Horowitz report will effectively wash her hands of actual legal wrongdoing, the callous downplaying of her own choices shows she hasn’t really accepted her fate, no matter what her Tweets say. The President might have made her a target of scorn, but it was her own actions, not Trump’s thumbs, that opened the door to be, in her own words, “crushed” online. She was the one who cheated with a married man and irreparably altered the lives of herself and five others. That’s the decision she must come to terms with if she really wants to take back her story.
At this point in the game, she is a private citizen who has miraculously managed to avoid the paparazzi and, despite the affair, remains married and working to keep her family together. She doesn’t deserve any further outrage from political detractors, nor should Trump supporters devote the energy to hate on a person whose only actual infraction was breaking her vows.
Still, Page represents an opportunity for the MAGA crowd to avoid a political trap that frequently snares both sides of the aisle. This wasn’t Watergate. She didn’t wipe Hillary’s servers. Stop picking low-hanging fruit, especially when the juice doesn’t justify the squeeze.