Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page suing Justice Dept. and FBI over text messages
Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer who exchanged anti-Trump text messages with another FBI employee, is suing the Justice Department and FBI over the disclosure of those text messages to the media. Her attorneys argue in the suit that the revelation of her text messages violates the Privacy Act, which bars “disclosing a covered record ‘about’ an individual unless an exception applies or the individual who is the subject of the record consents in writing to the disclosure.”
The Justice Department declined on Tuesday to comment on the lawsuit.
About 375 of Page’swith former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who led the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State, were released in December 2017. In the texts, exchanged during the presidential campaign, the two often expressed distaste for Mr. Trump.
Strzok calls Mr. Trump “awful” and “an idiot” in one exchange with Page, with whom he was having an extramarital affair. Page, in one text in July 2016, wrote of Mr. Trump, “He’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?”
In December 2017, the lawsuit notes, the Justice Department IG obtained the text messages as part of an internal watchdog investigation into whether there had been bias in the FBI investigation of the Clinton email server.
During the Justice Department inspector general’s 2017-2018 investigation into the handling of the Clinton email probe, the IG reviewed text messages that had been sent and received on FBI-issued cell phones by employees involved in the probe, including those of Page and Strzok. The June 2018 IG report said that it questioned whether Strzok had taken actions in the Clinton email investigation “based on his political views,” but ultimately found that he was not the “sole decisionmaker” for the investigative decisions that were examined.
Strzok and Page, in fact, pushed for “more aggressive measures” in the Clinton email probe, the IG pointed out. The OIG found that political bias did not affect the investigation. This week, the IG report into the origins of the Russia investigation found several procedural errors but overallon the part of the FBI or Justice Department.
Page’s lawsuit accuses the Justice Department of releasing the messages at least in part “to elevate DOJ’s standing with the President,” after his repeated public attacks” on both the Department and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Mr. Trump often derided for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
Page’s attorneys say that since the disclosure of those texts about two years ago, she’s been targeted by the White House and President Trump, “in more than 40 tweets and dozens of interviews, press conferences, and statements.”
On Tuesday at a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania, President Trump raised her name again: “Peter Strzok and his lover Lisa Page — remember?” He said he’d heard that Strzok needed “a restraining order” against Page. “That’s what I heard. I don’t know if it’s true,” Mr. Trump said, offering no evidence of the claim.
Page worked on the investigation into Clinton’s emails, and she was also assigned to work in special counsel Robert Mueller’s office from May to July 2017, as Mueller took over the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.