Court Battles

Lisa Page sues DOJ, FBI over alleged privacy violations

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the bureau and the Justice Department, alleging privacy violations over her text messages with former FBI agent Peter Strzok.

In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Page says the agencies unlawfully released to the press text messages between her and Strzok in December 2017 for “multiple improper reasons,” including currying favor with President Trump after he publicly attacked the Department of Justice (DOJ) and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“They did so by summoning DOJ beat reporters to the Department to review the messages at night, prohibiting the reporters from copying or removing the set of messages from the building, and instructing them not to reveal DOJ as the source,” the lawsuit states, calling this approach inconsistent with the traditional disclosure process for materials in the public interest.

A DOJ spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Page has been a frequent target of Trump since the disclosure of her affair with Strzok and messages they exchanged critical of him, which were central to his repeated claims the DOJ investigation of his 2016 campaign was politically motivated.

Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after the messages were disclosed and was later fired from the FBI.

A report from the DOJ’s inspector general, released Monday, found that no political bias motivated the investigation into Russia’s election interference, although it said agents omitted certain key information in applications to surveil former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page in 2016. 

The public interest in disclosure, Page’s complaint states, did not outweigh her own privacy.

“Indeed, prior to the disclosure on December 12, DOJ and/or FBI officials could not in good faith have determined that public disclosure was warranted on that basis, given the preliminary nature of [the office of inspector general’s] review of the text messages,” the lawsuit states. 

“Nor would agency officials acting in good faith and with a reasonable basis for the lawfulness of their conduct have released the messages in the manner that officials chose here: ushering reporters to DOJ premises after business hours; allowing them to view, but not copy or remove, the set of messages; and forbidding them from sourcing the material to DOJ,” it adds.

Moreover, it states, there was no legal exemption or exception that covered the release of the records to the media.

The disclosure of the records, Page writes, has damaged her reputation to the point of “permanent loss of earning capacity” and imposed on her family the cost of child care during investigative interviews and appearances before Congress and other costs related to protecting her personal information and therapy related to harassment caused by the disclosure.

“I take little joy in having done so,” Page tweeted Tuesday afternoon in reference to the lawsuit. “But what they did in leaking my messages to the press was not only wrong, it was illegal.”

Updated: 4:53 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump FBI texts Jeff Sessions Lawsuit Robert Mueller

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