A former FBI lawyer repeatedly attacked by President Donald Trump says she no longer wants to stay silent, calling it “sickening” to face personal attacks from him on a regular basis.
“It’s almost impossible to describe” what it’s like, Lisa Page told The Daily Beast. “It’s like being punched in the gut. 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.”
Page was thrust into the national spotlight with the disclosure of text messages she exchanged with then-FBI agent Peter Strzok critical of Trump when he was a presidential candidate.
The messages between Page and Strzok have been cited by Trump and congressional Republicans as evidence of alleged political bias at the FBI and Justice Department during the investigations of interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails when she was secretary of state. Page testified behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee in July 2018.
A Justice Department inspector general report released last year found that the actions of some agents hurt the FBI’s reputation - including the messages from Strzok and Page, who according to the report, were having an extramarital affair
But the report found no evidence connecting the decision-making in the Clinton probe to political bias.
In the newly released interview, Page says she decided to speak out and “take my power back” because the president continues to use her and Strzok’s names as a political attack line. Page tweeted “I’m done being quiet” from a previously inactive account. ABC has confirmed the account is authentic.
Trump frequently attacks Page and Strzok at his rallies and in photo ops, calling the former FBI officials “the lovers” and accusing them of politically motivated attacks on his presidency.
Page said Trump repeatedly mocking her and Strzok at one rally was "the straw that broke the camel's back" in triggering her to come forward.
During that rally, he also misquoted a private text in which Page and Strzok discussed Trump's chances of getting elected and "an insurance policy."
"And we're living through the insurance policy now, that's what it is. The phony Russia hoax," he said.
The actual text the president was referring to reads: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office” – referring to then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe – “that there's no way [Trump] gets elected. But I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40…"
Strzok said in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last year that the text was alluding to those inside the FBI who thought the FBI should soft-peddle its investigation of the Trump campaign's ties to Russia because Trump was unlikely to win the presidency anyway. And those FBI officials were concerned that a more aggressive investigation could risk compromising "an extraordinarily sensitive source," Strzok testified last year.
Strzok, however, was among those who thought the investigation should be aggressively pursued and that Trump's supposed longshot electoral chances shouldn't change that, he said. “If candidate Trump is elected, there might be people we need to be investigating that might be nominated to important national security positions," Strzok testified.
Page said she would like to say the president’s attacks don’t interfere with her daily life but it’s difficult, saying she will “wince” if she thinks someone could recognize her on the Metro.
She said it’s “intimidating” to be attacked by the president by name.
“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,” she added.
Trump continued to attack Page in a tweet published while he was on his way to London on Air Force One on Monday. Trump tweeted "When Lisa Page, the lover of Peter Strzok, talks about being “crushed”, and how innocent she is, ask her to read Peter’s “Insurance Policy” text, to her, just in case Hillary loses. Also, why were the lovers text messages scrubbed after he left Mueller. Where are they Lisa?"
Trump's tweet also referenced a falsehood he and other Republicans have continued to repeat that Page and Strzok's text messages were "scrubbed after [Strzok] left Mueller"despite it being debunked by reports from the DOJ inspector general both in June and December of 2018.
Next Monday, the Justice Department’s inspector general is expected to release the findings of another investigation into bias inside the FBI and Justice Department during the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The Daily Beast reported the inspector general’s office told Page and Strzok their romantic relationship would not be disclosed but it was reported in news outlets and after Republicans and the president asked questions about it the Justice Department released some of their text messages to reporters.
Page says the texts that were released were “cherry-picked” and “selected for their political impact,” adding that she wasn’t given the chance to put them in context.
Page declined to discuss the findings of the upcoming inspector general’s report but said some of the text messages cited by Trump and other Republicans were taken out of context and that she didn’t do anything wrong. Federal employees are barred from partisan political activity under the Hatch Act but Page said she was within her rights to share political opinions in private conversations.
“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.
ABC News' Mike Levine and Alex Mallin contributed to this report.