Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page is suing the FBI and Department of Justice, alleging that the government's publication of her salacious text messages with anti-Trump ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok constituted a breach of the Federal Privacy Act.
In the complaint filed Tuesday, the 39-year-old Page said she suffered numerous damages because of the disclosure, including a "permanent loss of earning capacity due to reputational damage" and "the cost of therapy to cope with unwanted national media exposure and harassment" at the hands of President Trump.
Page's complaint also sought reimbursement for "the cost of childcare during and transportation to multiple investigative reviews and appearances before Congress," the "cost of paying a data-privacy service to protect her personal information," and attorney's fees.
On Dec. 12, 2017, Page said in the complaint, "DOJ and/or FBI officials disclosed" her sensitive text messages "directly to a select group of reporters to ensure they would become public." Page alleged that after discovery, she would be able to prove that senior officials knew they were violating the law, and that their conduct was "willful and intentional."
Among those texts was a July 2016 message in which Page wrote to Strzok, “She [Hillary Clinton] just has to win now. I’m not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about Trump.” Within days, the FBI began investigating then-candidate Trump's alleged connections to Russia.
And, after Trump made a joke at a presidential debate concerning his hand size, Page wrote, "This man cannot be president." Strzok, meanwhile, called Trump a “douche," mocked Trump supporters, and said he was "scared."
Page's lawsuit lamented that Trump's tweets about her texts "have been retweeted and favorited millions of times." Trump, Page went on, has "targeted" her "by name in more than 40 tweets and dozens of interviews, press conferences, and statements from the White House, fueling unwanted media attention that has radically altered her day-to-day life."
She argued that federal law prevents agencies from disclosing personal records about individuals "unless an exception applies or the individual who is the subject of the record consents in writing to the disclosure."
Page's lawsuit claimed that there was no public-interest justification for the government's leak, given that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz was already reviewing the texts and later found "no evidence of bias affecting investigative decisions it reviewed, including matters in which Ms. Page was involved." Page asserted that the government leakers were trying to gain favor with Trump.
However, Horowitz noted in an initial report last year that Strzok and Page's anti-Trump texts were "not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects." He did not conclude definitively that Page and Strzok's actions were free from bias -- only that he did not have evidence to tie bias to specific investigative actions.
In a separate bombshell report issued Monday, Horowitz extensively faulted the FBI's secretive efforts to surveil a former Trump aide, which involved both Page and Strzok.
Earlier this month, as part of its effort to reject Strzok's request for reinstatement at the FBI, the DOJ outlined evidence that Strzok's wife had obtained his phone, and discovered he and Page were having an extramarital affair. The DOJ argued that the information was relevant because Strzok had conducted FBI business on iMessage on his personal electronic devices, but insisted his phone was secure and that he had "double deleted" sensitive materials on his phone.
"[My wife] has my phone. Read an angry note I wrote but didn't send you. That is her calling from my phone. She says she wants to talk to [you]. Said we were close friends nothing more," one of Strzok's text to Page read, according to the DOJ's filing.
"Your wife left me a vm [voicemail]," Page wrote back to Strzok. "Am I supposed to respond? She thinks we're having an affair. Should I call and correct her understanding? Leave this to you to address?"
Strzok then wrote, "I don't know. I said we were [...] close friends and nothing more. She knows I sent you flowers, I said you were having a tough week."
Strzok's wife also found photographs and a hotel reservation "ostensibly" used for a "romantic encounter," the government said.
Page's suit will likely face an immediate challenge from the government. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that suits against the government under the Privacy Act for mental and emotional distress are not immune from the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which limits the right of individuals to sue the federal government.
Her lawsuit does not contain an apology for her conduct, and she has long maintained that her anti-Trump views -- which she shared with Strzok using FBI phones even as the two played key roles in the Hillary Clinton and Russia probes -- did not affect her official duties.
However, as the FBI was preparing to interview Clinton at her home at the close of the email probe, Page sent Strzok a text message that suggested she was concerned about the political impact of the investigation.
“One more thing: She might be our next president,” Page wrote to Strzok on Feb. 24, 2016. “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]?”
“Agreed…,” Strzok responded.
Earlier this month, Page spoke exclusively to The Daily Beast in a highly sympathetic profile authored by Molly Jong-Fast, who called Strzok "hawt" in a tweet last year. In the interview, Page said Trump's open mockery of her conduct had forced her to confront the president publicly.
“Honestly, his demeaning fake orgasm was really the straw that broke the camel’s back," Page told The Daily Beast.
In a rally, Trump had passionately read from Strzok and Page's text messages -- even screaming out, "I love you, Lisa! I love you so much! Lisa, she's going to win one-hundred-million-to-nothing. But just in case she doesn't win, we've got an insurance policy!" Conservative commentators have disputed that Trump was mimicking an orgasm.
Strzok, a veteran counterintelligence agent who led FBI investigations into Clinton’s use of a private email server and ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team after his anti-Trump texts with Page came to light. He was fired from the FBI last August.
Page left the FBI in May 2018.