Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page breaks silence. Here are the key takeaways from her interview

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page breaks silence. Here are the key takeaways from her interview

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Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who was thrust into the center of the FBI controversy during the Trump-Russia investigation, said she decided to speak out after almost two years of silence mostly because of President Trump's dramatic reading of her messages with former FBI head of counterintelligence Peter Strzok.

How we got here: The 39-year-old Page had an extramarital affair with Strzok. The two exchanged messages critical of the president, which became the subject of an internal review into how the FBI handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton and whether political bias tainted the agency's probe into connections between Russia and President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

At one point, Page asked Strzok “[Trump is] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it," Strzok replied.

The interview: Page spoke with the Daily Beast in an exclusive interview that mainly focuses on the scrutiny she has been under since her anti-Trump texts with Strzok made their way into the media and the criticism she often draws from the president himself.

Why now? When asked why she decided to speak to the press now and not when the situation was gaining steam, Page pointed to the "demeaning fake orgasm" Trump enacted in early October at a rally saying it was "the straw that broke the camel’s back."

She also said that she can now talk to the media because 18 months have passed since she left the FBI in May 2018.  "I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse. 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," she said.

Page pushed back against claims that she acted in an inappropriate manner. She said that even though she was a government official she was allowed to express her opinion and political stances in private and that the comments were stripped of context.

“I don’t engage in any sort of partisan politicking at all. But having an opinion and sharing that opinion publicly or privately with another person is squarely within the permissible bounds of the Hatch Act,” she said. “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," Page said, referring to the time when she was told that the DOJ Inspector General's Office is looking into her texts.

"What I do know is that my text messages will reveal that I had previously had an affair. I’m overwhelmed by dread and embarrassment at the prospect that OIG investigators, Andy, and my colleagues, now know or could learn about this deeply personal secret," she said.

Going public: The investigation into her stayed hidden from the public for six months until the Washington Post reported on the affair.  “And that’s when I become the source of the president’s personal mockery and insults," Page noted.

"A week or two later, Rod Rosenstein [then the deputy attorney general] was scheduled to testify on the Hill. 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 of Rod Rosenstein going to the Hill the next morning," she explained.

The FBI and DOJ: Page indicated that it was disappointing that the FBI and the DOJ didn't issue a statement defending her and Strozk, despite promising that their affair would remain out of the public eye. "So it’s particularly devastating to be betrayed by an organization I still care about so deeply. And it’s crushing to see the noble Justice Department, my Justice Department, the place I grew up in, feel like it’s abandoned its principles of truth and independence.”

We didn't spy on the president or his campaign, Page claims. “We were very deliberate and conservative about who we first opened on because we recognized how sensitive a situation it was. So the prospect that we were spying on the campaign or even investigating candidate Trump himself is just false. That’s not what we were doing.”

Trump's criticism: Page said the president's frequent bashing isn't even "PTSD because it’s not over. It’s ongoing. It’s not a historical event that is being relived. It just keeps happening.”

“I mean, he tweeted about me four days ago ... When Roger Stone got convicted, he asked, why isn’t Page in jail too? Not to mention, you know, his truly reprehensible, degrading stunt at his rally, in which he used my name to simulate an orgasm. And I don’t ever know when the president’s going to attack next. And when it happens, it can still sort of upend my day. You don’t really get used to it.”

“I’ll get a text from a friend alerting me to an outrageous tweet by the president and my first question is always — is it about me? Often the answer is yes,” she said.

Worth noting: Page's interview comes days before the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to release a report as part of an investigation into possible FBI misconduct. It was recently reported that Horowitz determined a lower-level FBI lawyer altered a key document related to the FBI's secretive surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser.

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