Trials & Litigation

Former FBI lawyer sues over disclosure of her texts criticizing Trump and discussing personal matters

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Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page has sued the bureau and the U.S. Department of Justice for releasing her text messages with former FBI agent Peter Strzok, with whom she was having an affair.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., says release of the texts violated the Privacy Act. The law bars disclosure of federal agency records unless an exception applies or the person who is the subject of the records gives consent.

The Washington Post, Law360 and the National Law Journal have coverage.

The messages, recovered by the DOJ’s inspector general, revealed Page’s dislike for President Donald Trump, whom she called “a loathsome human.”

In one controversial message, Page wrote that Trump is “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

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

Page contends that 375 texts were released to reporters partly to curry favor with Trump, who has contended that politics motivated the investigation of possible links between Russian election influence and members of his campaign.

Since then, Page has been ridiculed and criticized by Trump in speeches and tweets that described her as “pathetic,” “stupid” and “corrupt.”

The unwanted media attention has “radically altered her day-to-day life,” Page says in the suit.

Page says the 375 messages were given to reporters for review by the DOJ, which did not allow reporters to disclose that the DOJ was the source or to make copies. The 375 texts had been preliminarily identified as political in nature, but the inspector general would later conclude that many of the messages were personal and only about a quarter were political, the suit says. Personal messages included discussions of family and health issues.

Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election influence and fired from the FBI in August 2018. He has challenged his firing in a lawsuit. Page resigned in May 2018.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz had investigated the texts as part of his probe into how the FBI handled the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as his probe into the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Horowitz’s report on the Russia investigation, released Monday, concluded that the decision to open the probe wasn’t motivated by political bias or improper motive. Page, who was special counsel to the deputy FBI director, did not play a role in the decision to open the investigation, the report said.

Horowitz also found that bias did not influence the decision not to prosecute Clinton.

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