(CNSNews.com) - Then-FBI Attorney Lisa Page, who served as special counsel to then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and who had an extramarital affair with FBI agent Peter Strzok, sent messages to McCabe, Strzok and a McCabe adviser warning that the FBI should be careful not to perturb Hillary Clinton in the way they structured their interview with her because “she might be our next president.”
As pointed out in the report released Thursday by the inspector general of the Department Justice, both Page and Strzok, who worked on the FBI investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, were supportive of Clinton and antagonistic toward Donald Trump.
“God Hillary should win 100,000,000-0,” Strzok said, for example, in a text message to Page on March 3, 2016, when both Strzok and Page were involved in the Clinton investigation and Clinton was running in the Democratic primaries.
“God trump is a loathsome human,” Page said to Strzok in a text message that same day.
“The text messages between Page and Strzok covered a wide range of topics,” the IG report said. “For example, we identified a large number of routine work-related communications. Many of the text messages were of a personal nature, including discussions about their families, medical issues, and daily events, and reflected that Strzok and Page were communicating on their FBI-issued phones as part of an extramarital affair."
“We found that this relationship was relevant to the frequency and candid nature of the text messages and their use of FBI-issued phones to communicate,” said the report. “Some of these text messages expressed political opinions about candidates and issues involved in the 2016 presidential election, including statements of hostility toward candidate Trump and statements of support for candidate Clinton.”
The IG report says that the IG had “three primary concerns” about the way the FBI handled the interview it did with Clinton at the end of its email investigation.
The first of these concerns was: the “text messages sent by Page to Strzok, McCabe, and another FBI employee that appeared to suggest that the team limit the number of attendees at Clinton’s interview because she might be the next President and it could leave her upset.”
These texts were sent in the context of a discussion between the Department of Justice and the FBI about how many FBI agents and Justice Department attorneys should attend the Clinton interview. The FBI, led by Strzok, wanted just two FBI agents and two Justice Department prosecutors there. The Department of Justice wanted three of its prosecutors who were working on the case to attend, plus David Laufman, who headed the DOJ’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, which was overseeing the case.
McCabe also took the position that two agents and two Justice Department lawyers should attend, according to the IG report, “but he was amenable to three agents and three prosecutors as a compromise.”
McCabe’s counsel, Lisa Page, was worried about how Hillary Clinton might react if there were a large number attending her interview. On the night of February 24, 2016, she first sent Strzok a text message asking if he and FBI Assistant Director Bill Priestap actually believed three from both the FBI and DOJ would be the right number.
She then followed that message with another to Strzok warning that Clinton might be the next president and might not be happy with the way the FBI and DOJ dealt with her.
“One more thing: she might be our next president,” Page told Strzok. “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?”
Here are the Page-Strzok texts from that night as published in the IG report:
10:32 p.m., Page: “Do you or Bill [Priestap] fundamentally believe that 3 and 3 is the RIGHT thing for the case? If the answer is no, then you call [McCabe’s advisor] back and say we’re good as is. You have never wavered from saying 2 and 2 is best. I don’t get what the hesitation is now.”
10:52 p.m., Page: “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?”
10:56 p.m., Strzok: “Agreed.”
Just a “few minutes” after this text exchange, according to the IG report, Page had a text exchange with someone the IG describes as “an adviser to McCabe.”
Once again she warned that Clinton “might be our next president,” and suggested the FBI needed to worry about how Clinton remembered the interview.
Here are how those texts, verbatim, as presented in the IG report:
10:56 p.m., Page: “Hey, if you have one opportunity to discuss further with andy, please convey the following: She might be our next president. The last thing we need is us going in there loaded for bear, when it is not operationally necessary. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi? This is as much about reputational protection as anything.”
11:00 p.m., Advisor: “I’ll catch him before the morning brief to give him this nugget....
The next morning—February 25, 2016—Page sent a text directly to McCabe, once again expressing her concern about how Clinton, who “might be our next president,” would remember the way she was interviewed.
Here is the text of that message as reproduced in the IG report:
Page: “Hey, you’ve surely already considered this, but in my view our best reason to hold the line at 2 and 2 is: She might be our next president. The last thing we need is us going in there loaded for bear, when it is not operationally necessary. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi? This is as much about reputational protection as anything.”
The IG report then said:
The next text message exchange between McCabe and Page was in the evening on February 25, 2016:
9:16 p.m., Page: “Hey I’m sorry. It’s just wildly aggravating how much churn has gone on this. Have a good night.”
9:50 p.m., McCabe: “Agree. Strongly.”
The IG report included Page’s explanation of what she was trying to do here and what she meant by terms such as “loaded for bear” and “trying to intimidate.” It summarized Page’s explanation as follows:
“Page told us that the term ‘loaded for bear’ in her mind meant ‘a ton of people,’ such that the FBI was “trying to intimidate.” She stated that the message she was trying to send in her text message was not that Clinton should be treated differently, but that she should be handled the same as any other witness the FBI interviews. She further stated that as a former prosecutor her ‘personal preference’ would be to not have too many people in an interview, because ‘[t]hat’s just sort of not conducive to both rapport-building and also just...what it looks like...just pure optics.’ In addition, she told us that she believed the additional interviewers were ‘unnecessary’ and ‘if there is no value to be added, then we should do things the way we always do things, which is with a smaller, more discrete footprint.’ She further told us that, while ‘it’s irrelevant whether or not [Clinton]...would or would not become president...if she did become president, I don’t want her left with a feeling that...the FBI marched in with an army of 50 in order to interview me.’ In other words, Page stated that her concern had to do with the ‘reputational risk’ to the FBI.”
The report also summarized Strzok’s explanation to the inspector general of these communications between him and Page. In this context, Strzok said both that Page did not mean “we need to treat [Clinton] differently” because she’s going to be president and also that “you don’t want the president thinking you’re a bunch of clowns.”
The IG report summarized Strzok’s explanation:
“However, Strzok told us that he did not take Page’s comment to mean that ‘we need to treat her differently because she’s the next president.’ He further told us, ‘I am certain I made no decision based on anything [Clinton] might be or become.’ Strzok stated that strategically, to obtain ‘the best answer’ it is ‘always ideal’ to conduct an interview with ‘two agents and the subject.’ He went on: ‘Now, if they want counsel, fine. If you have a DOJ attorney, fine. But ideally...my experience is the smaller the setting, the more effective the interview.’ Strzok told us that the only relevance of her being the next president was that ‘you don’t want the president thinking you’re a bunch of clowns.’
McCabe told the IG that it was “typical” to run an interview with only two agents, but also that he understood Page to be saying that “she would not want the future president to think the FBI was ‘a bunch of…brutes.’”
The IG report summarized McCabe’s explanation of the text exchanges this way:
“Similarly, McCabe stated that the ‘typical’ way to run an interview is with two agents and one attorney, and ‘one of the reasons for doing that is to kind of keep the interviewees...defenses a little bit lower and not make people so concerned.’ He stated that he understood Page to be saying in her text message that she would not want the future president to think the FBI was ‘a bunch of...brutes.’ In addition, McCabe told us that when he wrote that he ‘agree[d] strongly’ with Page, he was agreeing that it was ‘ridiculous that we're still talking about who is going to what interview from which side,’ not that the team should not go into Clinton’s interview too aggressively.”
The Clinton interview eventually took place on July 2, 2016—more than four months after Page’s text-message exchanges with Strzok and McCabe about it. In the end, eight individuals attended the Clinton interview, including three from the FBI and five DOJ prosecutors.
“We did not find evidence that decisions regarding the timing or scoping of Clinton’s interview were based on improper considerations or influenced by bias,” asid the IG report. “In addition, based on our review of the FD-302 and contemporaneous notes, the investigators appeared to ask appropriate questions of Clinton and made use of documents to challenge Clinton’s testimony and assess her credibility during the interview.”
In the report, the IG published a series of text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page that showed how they supported Clinton and disliked Trump.
Here is that list from the IG report:
In this section, we highlight examples of text messages of a political nature commenting on Trump and Clinton. We include explanations provided by Page and Strzok about their use of FBI-issued phones in general and their use of FBI-issued phones for political discussions. The sender of each text message is identified after the date.
-August 16, 2015, Strzok: “[Bernie Sanders is] an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out.”201
-February 12, 2016, Page: “I’m no prude, but I’m really appalled by this. So you don’t have to go looking (in case you hadn’t heard), Trump called him the p-word. The man has no dignity or class. He simply cannot be president. With a Slur for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump Further Splits Voters http://nyti.ms/1XoICkO.”
-February 12, 2016, Strzok: “Oh, [Trump’s] abysmal. I keep hoping the charade will end and people will just dump him. The problem, then, is Rubio will likely lose to Cruz. The Republican party is in utter shambles. When was the last competitive ticket they offered?”
-March 3, 2016, Page: “God trump is a loathsome human.”
-March 3, 2016, Strzok: “Omg [Trump’s] an idiot.
-March 3, 2016, Page: “He’s awful.”
-March 3, 2016, Strzok: “God Hillary should win 100,000,000-0.”
-March 3, 2016, Page: “Also did you hear [Trump] make a comment about the size of his d*ck earlier? This man cannot be president.”
-March 12, 2016: Page forwarded an article about a “far right” candidate in Texas, stating, “[W]hat the f is wrong with people?” Strzok replied, “That Texas article is depressing as hell. But answers how we could end up with President trump.”
-March 16, 2016, Page: “I cannot believe Donald Trump is likely to be an actual, serious candidate for president.”
-June 11, 2016, Strzok: “They fully deserve to go, and demonstrate the absolute bigoted nonsense of Trump.”
-July 18, 2016, Page: “…Donald Trump is an enormous d*uche.” July 19, 2016, Page: “Trump barely spoke, but the first thing out of his mouth was ‘we’re going to win soooo big.’ The whole thing is like living in a bad dream.”
-July 21, 2016, Strzok: “Trump is a disaster. I have no idea how destabilizing his Presidency would be.”
-August 26, 2016, Strzok: “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support....”
-September 26, 2016, Page: Page sent an article to Strzok entitled, “Why Donald Trump Should Not Be President,” stating, “Did you read this? It’s scathing. And I’m scared.”
-October 19, 2016, Strzok: “I am riled up. Trump is a fucking idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer.”
-November 3, 2016, Page: “The nyt probability numbers are dropping every day. I’m scared for our organization.”
-November 3, 2016, Strzok: “[Jill] Stein and moron [Gary] Johnson are F’ing everything up, too.”
-November 7, 2016, Strzok: Referencing an article entitled “A victory by Mr. Trump remains possible,” Strzok stated, “OMG THIS IS F*CKING TERRIFYING.”
-November 13, 2016, Page: “I bought all the president’s men. Figure I needed to brush up on watergate.”