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Ex-FBI lawyer whose texts criticized Trump breaks silence

  • NEW YORK TIMES
                                Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, center, passes reporters as she walks to a closed-door meeting with members of the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington last year. Page, who became a frequent target of President Donald Trump after criticizing him in text messages during his candidacy in 2016, ended nearly two years of public silence in an interview with the Daily Beast this week.

    NEW YORK TIMES

    Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, center, passes reporters as she walks to a closed-door meeting with members of the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington last year. Page, who became a frequent target of President Donald Trump after criticizing him in text messages during his candidacy in 2016, ended nearly two years of public silence in an interview with the Daily Beast this week.

Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer who became a frequent target of President Donald Trump after criticizing him in text messages during his candidacy in 2016, ended nearly two years of public silence in an interview with the Daily Beast published Sunday.

Since her text messages were made public in 2017, Page has often been singled out by Trump, who has brought up her name at political rallies and in dozens of tweets.

“It’s like being punched in the gut,” Page said in her interview last month with writer Molly Jong-Fast. “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.”

Page, who worked for the FBI on both the Clinton email and Russia investigations, criticized Trump during his candidacy in text exchanges with another bureau official, Peter Strzok, an agent with whom she was having an extramarital affair.

The texts were released in December 2017. In them, Page and Strzok had expressed fear that Trump could win the presidential election.

“This man cannot be president,” Page wrote in March 2016.

“She just has to win now,” she said in a July 2016 message, referring to Hillary Clinton. “I’m not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about Trump.”

In his texts to Page, Strzok referred to Trump as an “idiot” and a “douche.” Shortly before the 2016 election, he wrote that the prospect of a Trump presidency made him “scared for our organization.”

Intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government carried out a multipronged attack on the 2016 presidential election with the ultimate aim of helping Trump get elected. But the text messages fueled suspicion among Republicans that the investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia was politically motivated, and that the FBI and intelligence agencies — what Trump has called “the deep state” — were conspiring against the president.

Trump has mocked the relationship between Page and Strzok and accused them of being part of a “witch hunt.”

Page’s interview came about a week before a highly anticipated report, due out Dec. 9, examining aspects of the Russia investigation.

The report, from the Justice Department’s inspector general, is expected to criticize some officials while also undercutting Trump’s claims by showing a lack of evidence that the FBI tried to place undercover agents or informants inside Trump’s campaign in 2016, according to people familiar with the draft.

In her interview with The Daily Beast, Page described her career and her background, rising steadily through the ranks of the FBI. She said she had struggled to live a normal life since her text messages were made public. These days, she said, eye contact with strangers can make her nervous, and she tries to avoid people wearing “Make America Great Again” caps.

“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,” Page said. “To try to further destroy my life. It never goes away or stops, even when he’s not publicly attacking me.”

Page resigned in May 2018 and was interviewed by members of the House behind closed doors in July 2018. Those transcripts were released by Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, in May.

Other than that, she has not spoken publicly about the texts. But Trump has mocked her repeatedly. He has tweeted about her dozens of times — most recently on Nov. 15 — and criticized her actions while also calling her “lovely” on multiple occasions.

Trump also mentioned the texts at an October rally in Minneapolis.

“I’m telling you, Peter, she’s going to win,” Trump said in an apparent imitation of Page texting Strzok about Clinton. “Peter, oh, I love you so much.”

That imitation spurred her to speak publicly, Page told The Daily Beast.

“Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said.

Page, who is still married, said the public exposure of her affair with Strzok made the episode especially painful.

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

“I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” she added. “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.”

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