When former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and former FBI agent Peter Strzok discussed a so-called “insurance policy” involving then-candidate Donald Trump and the Russia investigation in 2016, they were discussing how quickly to proceed with the probe, Page told lawmakers last year.
Page told House lawmakers in a closed-door interview that the text message about an “insurance policy” if Trump won the 2016 election — which Republicans have cited to point to the anti-Trump bias the investigators exhibited — was a reference to the fact that the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into whether members of Trump’s team were colluding with Russia would take on a greater significance if he was in the White House.
“If he is not elected, then, to the extent that the Russians were colluding with members of his team, we’re still going to investigate that even without him being President, because any time the Russians do anything with a US person, we care, and it’s very serious to us,” Page said.
“But if he becomes President, that totally changes the game because now he is the President of the United States,” she continued. “He’s going to immediately start receiving classified briefings. He’s going to be exposed to the most sensitive secrets imaginable. And if there is somebody on his team who wittingly or unwittingly is working with the Russians, that is super serious.”
Page was speaking to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees as part of last year’s Republican-led investigation into the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the investigations into Hillary Clinton and Trump and Russia.
The transcript of Page’s two-part interview in July 2018 was released publicly Tuesday by the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia. Last week he released Justice Department official Bruce Ohr’s interview transcript, and has said he plans to continue to release more of the panel’s interviews conducted last year.
Page’s text messages exchanged with Strzok while the FBI officials had an affair cut to the heart of the Republican probe, in which GOP lawmakers argued that key officials tasked with investigating Clinton and Trump had displayed a clear political bias.
Page’s interview took place just after the raucous, public hearing with Strzok, in which he acknowledged his personal political biases but argued they did not affect his professional work.
Page made a similar argument in her closed-door interview with the panels, saying that her and Strzok’s professional decisions were unconnected to the personal text messages they exchanged.
In the interview, Page noted there was also an anti-Clinton bias at the FBI. She said that Strzok told her about senior FBI officials expressing a sentiment that “you have to get her.” But she said the comments weren’t instructions to investigators, and rather amounted to “smack talk.”
“That’s the point I keep trying to make, which is, like, we don’t like a lot of the people we investigate. In fact, we mostly don’t like the people we investigate,” Page said.
CNN previously reported that Page explained another controversial text message in her interview — “We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting,” Strzok had texted her in the hours after FBI Director Jim Comey’s firing — was not about who was the FBI director.
“This case had been a topic of discussion for some time,” Page said. “The ‘waiting on’ was an indecision and a cautiousness on the part of the Bureau with respect to what to do, whether there was sufficient predication to open.”
CNN’s Tara Subramaniam contributed to this report.