Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page joined The Rachel Maddow Show for her first televised interview since leaving the bureau last year. Page and FBI Agent Peter Strzok were thrust into the national spotlight when text messages between the two during the 2016 campaign were leaked to the press by the Department of Justice, including one that mentions an “insurance policy” if then-candidate Trump were to be elected — a line that has consistently been used by President Trump and his allies to claim bias in the Russia investigation. But on Tuesday night, Page sought to set the record straight.
“We're talking about whether or not we should take certain investigative steps or not based on the likelihood that he's going to be president or not,” Page said. “You have to keep in mind, if President Trump doesn't become president, the national security risk, if there is somebody in his campaign associated with Russia, plummets. You're not so worried about Russia's doing, vis à vis a member of his campaign, if he's not president because you're not going to have access to classified information, you’re not going to have access to sources and methods in our national security apparatus. So the ‘insurance policy’ was an analogy. It's like an insurance policy when you're 40. You don't expect to die when you're 40, yet you still have an insurance policy.”
Page also explained another text used by some to denigrate the investigation into Trump’s campaign and make claims of a deep state conspiracy.
Concerning the text in which Strzok wrote “we’ll stop” Trump from being elected, Page explained, “By ‘we’ he’s talking about the collective we: like-minded, thoughtful, sensible people who were not gonna vote this person into office.”
Page claims she was told the text messages would remain private and is now suing the DoJ and the FBI for their handling of the texts. She claims that the texts were leaked to the press in an effort to get in Trump’s good graces. This came at a time when Trump was angry with then Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, and Trump was constantly bashing the FBI. Page, who has repeatedly been attacked by Trump on Twitter and at rallies, says this betrayal was worse than the president’s attacks.
“It’s really one of the more painful aspects of this entire two years. I mean the president’s attacks and assaults are one thing, but this is my institution, this is my Justice Department betraying us,” Page said. “And there’s an element of, or at least there’s a claim that, ‘Well, this is congressional oversight and we had to do it.’ I have been a part of both these institutions for a long time, and I know what it looks like when the department is trying to protect people and protect information, and I know what it looks like when they’re not. There were plenty of ways to fulfill their congressionally mandated oversight responsibility without politicizing our messages, without shoveling them out in the way that they did.”
Though the recent DoJ inspector general’s report found no evidence that Page let her personal feelings toward Trump interfere with her work at the FBI, according to Page, it’s too little too late. Page has been a constant target of Trump and his allies in Congress and the media, and the IG’s report has done little if anything to change that. As the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz sat ready to answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) read a long list of the Page-Strzok text messages in an apparent attempt to discredit the IG’s findings. It’s worth noting that Horowitz also found pro-Trump text threads between FBI agents.
“Two days later you see Lindsey Graham in the Senate spend 40 minutes reading text messages again,” Page said. “These are three years old, they’ve been described as immaterial ultimately by the inspector general, and yet we’re still talking about them.”
Watch as Adam Schiff mocks signs Republicans displayed at impeachment hearings:
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