"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, 2019"
It was one of the grossest moments at any of his rallies and that's saying something. It was so gross that it prompted Lisa Page, the "Lisa" he was mocking in that depraved speech to speak on the record for the first time. She spoke with Molly Jong Fast for the Daily Beast:
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 that 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.”
He will enjoy reading that, as will his tens of millions of fans. This degrading, demeaning behavior is exactly what they love about him.
“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?
You probably already know the story about Page and Strzok and the emails about their affair while they were working on the Clinton and Russia investigations. Trump has tweeted about it dozens of times. Strzok testified in public about it. (If you don't, the article goes into it for you.)
Anyway, this is the part I had forgotten about:
“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.”
The Inspector General’s office had guaranteed Page and Strzok that the affair would not be made public. But then, The Washington Post included the affair in its story. And in a slip of a second, Page goes from being an anonymous government lawyer to playing an unwilling and recurring role in Trump’s twisted tweetstorms.
“So now I have to deal with the aftermath of having the most wrong thing I’ve ever done in my life become public,” she says. “And that’s when I become the source of the president’s personal mockery and insults. Because before this moment in time, there’s not a person outside of my small legal community who knows who I am or what I do. I’m a normal public servant, just a G-15, standard-level lawyer, like every other lawyer at the Justice Department.”
And despite how awful that felt, Page had no idea it was going to get much, much worse.
“After this comes out, there's a firestorm, of course, and now the president and the Republicans on the Hill latch on to this, and it becomes about political bias,” she explains.
“A week or two later, Rod Rosenstein [then the deputy attorney general] was scheduled to testify on the Hill. And the night before his testimony, the Justice Department spokesperson, Sarah Flores, calls the beat reporters into the Justice Department. This is late at night on a weekday. Calls them in to provide a cherry-picked selection of my text messages to review and report on in advance of Rod Rosenstein going to the Hill the next morning.”
Why does she think the administration released her text messages?
“You’d have to ask Sarah Flores,” she says. “I can tell you that the reporters there that night were told that they weren’t allowed to source them to the Justice Department, and that they weren’t allowed to copy or remove them, just take notes. That’s what I know.”
Those texts were selected for their political impact. They lack a lot of context. Many of them aren't even about him or me.
Sarah Isgur Flores has left the administration and referred questions to the Justice Department. The department declined to comment.
Keep this in mind:
As Politico noted at the time, “The DOJ decision to release the text messages to the media and lawmakers before the IG report has drawn criticism from outside the department.” Ben Wittes wrote on the Lawfare blog, “Rosenstein here has, at a minimum, contributed to that circus—at the expense of his own employees. In throwing a career FBI agent and career FBI lawyer to the wolves by authorizing the release to the public of their private text messages—without any finding that they had done anything wrong—he once again sent a message to his workforce that he is not the sort of man with whom you want to share your foxhole.”
You can see Sarah Isgur Flores today on CNN where she is often on speaking as a disinterested political "analyst."
Molly Jong Fast concludes with the observation that Trump's destruction of Lisa Page's life is not just another illustration of his gleeful misogyny it's more evidence of his destruction of government itself. He has polluted and corrupted everything he's touched. And episodes like that show how the press has often helped him do it.
Read the whole interview. It's depressing and frightening all at once.