(CNSNews.com) - On August 15, 2016, less than three months before the presidential election, FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok sent his extra-marital partner Lisa Page a text reading: "I want to believe the path your threw out in Andy's office -- that there is no way he 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."
Then-Rep. Trey Gowdy asked Lisa Page to explain that text when she appeared before a closed-door hearing last July. A transcript of that hearing was released this week.
"What does the clause 'that there is no way he gets elected' modify?" Gowdy asked Page:
"So I'll be honest: I don't remember," Page responded. "I don't remember precisely this event or this meeting."
"But I know sort of the sentiment that this text is meant to reflect," Page added.
She explained that if Trump was not going to be elected president -- a view that Page held -- she believed there was no reason to aggressively pursue the Trump-Russia counterintelligence investigation and "burn sources." But Strzok apparently didn't want to take that chance. Page said the "insurance policy" related to the tempo of the fledgling investigation -- "how aggressive or not aggressive" they should be. (See her own words below.)
Page also said that as of August 15, there was a "paucity of evidence" in the newly-launched Trump-Russia probe:
"But by this point, at, you know, the 15th, there -- it is at the -- literally, the very beginning. So there is, in fact, a paucity of evidence because we are just starting down the path to figure out whether the predication is true or not true, and who might ultimately be somebody who, if true, would have been in a position to receive information" (from the Russians).
Page explained that there were regular discussions at the FBI "in which we were trying to find an answer to the question, right, which is, is there someone associated with the campaign who is working with the Russians in order to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton?"
"And given that it is August, we were very aware of the speed and the sensitivity that we needed to operate under."
And so we had sort of regular conversations about trying to balance getting the answer as quickly as possible, right, because if the answer is, this is a guy just being puffery at a meeting with other people, great, then we don't need to worry about this, and we can all move on with our lives; if this is, in fact, the Russians have co-opted an individual with, you know, maybe wittingly or unwittingly, that's incredibly grave, and we need to know that as quickly as possible.
And so what this text reflects is our sort of continuing check-in almost with respect to how quickly to operate, what types of tools to use, trying to be as quiet as possible about it because we knew so little about what -- whether this was true or not true or what was going to come, because this is, as you said, so nascent in the investigation, and then ultimately, trying to balance that against my view, in this case, which was, we don't need to go at a total breakneck speed because so long as he doesn't become president, there isn't the same threat to national security, right?
So by which, I mean, 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 U.S. person, we care, and it's very serious to us. But if he becomes president, that totally changes the game, because now he is the President of the United States. 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.
And so what this reflects is my saying, he's not going to be elected. So let's not burn -- I think this, in particular, was whether we use certain investigative methods which might be--" (Page paused to say she wants to be forthcoming but is under certain constraints not to interfere with ongoing investigations.)
So anyway, so this reflects: let's be reasonable, let's not, you know, throw the kitchen sink at this because he's probably not going to be elected, and so then we don't have quite as horrific a national security threat than if we do if he gets elected.
At an open hearing on July 12, 2018, Peter Strzok explained the "insurance policy" the same way Page did:
That text represented a debate on information that we had received from an extraordinarily sensitive source and method, and that typically when something is that sensitive, if you take action on it, you put it at risk. And so there's a tension there. Maybe we should, you know, just real slow, take a typical three- or four-year counterintelligence investigation because the more aggressive you are, the more you put it at risk.
What -- and some people said that, some people said, "Hey, look, every poll is saying candidate Trump is likely not to win." Every Republican was saying that. Some people said, as a result of that, let's not risk the source, let's go slow.
What I advocated for, what I'm saying is, look, we're the FBI. We need to do our job. We need to go and investigate. While it isn't likely according to all the pollsters and everybody that candidate Trump is going to be elected, we need to make sure we are protecting America. We need to responsibly and aggressively investigate these accusations because you know what, if candidate Trump is elected, there might be people we need to be investigating that might be nominated for important national security positions.
Everybody in America would want to know that. Candidate Trump would want to know that.