Former Deputy FBI Director Peter Strzok and his lover former FBI attorney Lisa Page testified before the House Judiciary Committee this week. Strzok, one of the lead investigators on the Hillary Clinton email probe, was also on the FBI’s original counterintelligence team investigating the allegations of collusion between Russia and the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. Page was briefly part of the legal team for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion investigation.
Strzok and Page made headlines last winter with the revelation that they had exchanged 50,000 texts during 2016 and 2017 on FBI issued devices which included remarks which were blatantly biased against then presidential candidate Trump. While Strzok’s July 12 testimony was televised, Page’s July 13 testimony took place behind closed door, coincidentally the same day that the Mueller investigation announced the indictment of twelve Russian nationals for interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
I am not usually prone to postulate conspiracy theories. However, there is something about the Strzok-Page romantic relationship which strains credibility. Why would two FBI employees carelessly send such a voluminous amount of incriminating texts on FBI issued devices? They clearly knew the risks of their actions.
Secondly, it is evident from the texts that Page and Strzok were concerned about coming down too hard on Hillary Clinton in the investigation. For instance, in February 2016, Page sent Strzok the following text. “One more thing: she might be our next president. The last thing you need us going in there loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi?” It is conceivable that the two so called lovebirds fabricated their affair and then created this inventory of texts as a way to express their allegiance to Hillary Clinton and protect their professional futures.
This theory is further substantiated by a text which Page sent to Strzok in August 2016. “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded. On first blush, this text sounds like two lovers discussing their mutual hate for President Trump. However, why did Page look to have Strzok reassure her in this manner? The answer is that the two wanted to get their support for Hillary Clinton on the record so that she would remember their loyalty when she assumed the presidency.
Thirdly, both Strzok and Page are still married to their respective spouses, Melissa Hodgman, Associate Director with the SEC’s enforcement division and Joseph Burrow, a nonprofit executive. If there really was an affair, wouldn’t at least one of these couples have started initiating divorce proceedings? The answer is that the spouses were in on the plan.
Consider, Strzok’s wife, Melissa Hodgman. Employed by the SEC since 2008, she was promoted to Associate Director of the Enforcement Division about a month before the 2016 presidential election. Perhaps that promotion was a quid pro quo for Strzok’s support. Back in 2016, Page’s husband was an executive with the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). Perhaps Clinton promised Page that she would provide anonymous donations to her husband’s organization in exchange for her cooperation.
Finally, the duo appears to be engaged in opposing communications strategies. GOP house representatives found Page to be more forthcoming than Strzok. Both Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) described her as a “credible witness”. Meadows also mentioned that Page provided new information. By contrast, Strzok came across as “combative” and “smug” during his ten-hour testimony. This hostile/friendly witness performance could be part of a bigger plan to obtain leniency for them both. Page returns to the House for more questioning on Monday.
Perhaps we will learn something in the next few weeks which will make Strzok and Page’s motivations crystal clear. Were they engaged in a risky careless affair or a calculated political strategy? It all remains to be seen.
Image: Screen Shot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igzfFZMKjKc