The lone tweet appeared Sunday night on a profile bearing the name of former FBI attorney Lisa Page.
“I’m done being quiet,” the tweet read.
In the roughly two years since Page made national headlines after politically charged text messages between her and then-senior FBI agent Peter Strzok were released, the lawyer has refrained from publicly addressing the events that catapulted her into the center of a political firestorm and made her a repeated target of President Donald Trump’s ire.
Now, in a wide-ranging interview, Page slammed Trump for his “sickening” attacks against her and revealed how she has struggled to keep her life together.
“I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” Page, 39, told the Daily Beast in her first public interview, published Sunday. “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.”
Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer whose text-message exchanges with agent Peter Strzok that belittled Donald Trump and expressed fear at his possible victory became international news, breaks two years of silence in this exclusive interview https://t.co/Po6g9Rdyz4
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) December 2, 2019
Page’s interview comes just ahead of the planned Dec. 9 release of a report from the Justice Department inspector general on how the FBI conducted its investigation into Trump associates and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Page and Strzok, who had been having an affair, were both involved in the probes of Hillary Clinton’s emails and Russia when they exchanged text messages expressing a mutual dislike of Trump and concern that he might become president, The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett reported in 2017.
Those messages not only sparked an official ethics investigation but also fueled accusations from the president and his supporters that the federal agency’s probe into the Trump campaign was prejudiced against him. According to the Daily Beast, Page left the FBI in May 2018. Strzok was fired several months later.
Aside from participating in a closed-door interview with House members in July 2018 where she denied that bias impacted the Trump and Clinton investigations, Page did not make any other public statements about the text messages. Her silence didn’t discourage Trump from repeatedly disparaging the attorney, mentioning her by name in dozens of tweets and retweets.
“It’s like being punched in the gut,” Page told the Daily Beast, referencing Trump’s broadsides. “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.”
She continued: “But it’s also very intimidating because he’s still the president of the United States. 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.”
Being singled out by Trump has changed her daily life, Page said.
“Like, when somebody makes eye contact with me on the Metro, I kind of wince, wondering if it’s because they recognize me, or are they just scanning the train like people do?” she said. “It’s immediately a question of friend or foe? Or if I’m walking down the street or shopping and there’s somebody wearing Trump gear or a MAGA hat, I’ll walk the other way or try to put some distance between us because I’m not looking for conflict. Really, what I wanted most in this world is my life back.”
A recent Trump attacks motivated Page finally to speak out, she said. At an October rally in Minneapolis, Trump mocked Page’s texts to Strzok and passionately read the messages, drawing laughter from the thousands of attendees.
“Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said, later decrying the moment as a “reprehensible, degrading stunt.”
Throughout the Nov. 18 interview with writer Molly Jong-Fast, Page maintained that she did not think she had done anything illegal by exchanging the texts with Strzok, some of which have been described by The Post’s Glenn Kessler as reflecting “a deep animus toward Trump and the way he conducted himself during the 2016 campaign.”
“I don’t engage in any sort of partisan politicking at all,” Page told Jong-Fast. “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.”
What she was worried about at the time, however, was that an official investigation into her texts would reveal a “deeply personal secret”: her affair with Strzok.
“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. “And that’s when I become the source of the president’s personal mockery and insults. Because before this moment in time, there’s not a person outside my small legal community who knows who I am or what I do.”
The messages released to the media and lawmakers were “selected for their political impact,” Page said.
“They lack a lot of context,” she said. “Many of them aren’t even about him or me.”
Trump and Republicans have seized on the texts as evidence of political bias. In May, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., likened the messages to “a coup,” adding, “it could well be treason.” But as The Post’s Fact Checker pointed out, while the “language in the texts is certainly disturbing . . . that is mitigated by the fact that there is no evidence FBI officials actually tried to derail Trump’s election.”
That didn’t stop the president from going after Page again last month. Tweeting shortly after his longtime political adviser Roger Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering, Trump wondered why Page, among others, was not in jail too. “Didn’t they lie?” Trump asked.
“I don’t ever know when the president’s going to attack next,” Page told the Daily Beast. “And when it happens, it can still sort of upend my day. You don’t really get used to it.”