It’s not often that you interview a subject who has no interest in being famous. But recently, I did just that when I sat down with Lisa Page the week before Thanksgiving in my hotel room in Washington, D.C. Page, of course, is 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. They were hijacked by Trump to fuel his “deep state” conspiracy.
For the nearly two years since her name first made the papers, she’s been publicly silent (she did have a closed-door interview with House members in July 2018). I asked her why she was willing to talk now. “Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she says. The president called out her name as he acted out an orgasm in front of thousands of people at a Minneapolis rally on Oct. 11.
That was the moment Page decided she had to speak up. “I had stayed quiet for years hoping it would fade away, but instead it got worse,” she says. “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 is also about to be back in the news cycle in a big way. On Dec. 9, the Justice Department inspector general report into Trump’s charges that the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign will come out. Leaked press accounts indicate the report will exonerate Page of the allegation that she acted unprofessionally or showed bias against Trump.
How does it feel after all this time to finally have the IG apparently affirm what she’s been saying all along? She said she wouldn’t discuss the findings until they were officially public, but she did note: “While it would be nice to have the IG confirm publicly that my personal opinions had absolutely no bearing on the course of the Russia investigations, I don’t kid myself that the fact will matter very much for a lot of people. The president has a very loud megaphone.”
Page, 39, is thin and athletic. She speaks in an exceedingly confident, clear, and lawyerly way. But having been through the MAGA meat grinder has clearly worn her down, not unlike the other women I’ve met who’ve been subjected to the president’s abuse. She is just slightly crumbly around the edges the way the president’s other victims are.
“My heart drops to my stomach when I realize he has tweeted about me again.”
“It’s almost impossible to describe” what it’s like, she told me. “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.”
“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.”
Does it affect you in your normal day-to-day life?
“I wish it didn’t,” she said. “I’m someone who’s always in my head anyway—so now otherwise normal interactions take on a different meaning. 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? 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.”
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