Passion play: Trump drags FBI ‘lovers’ Strzok and Page into 2020 race
Lindsey Graham joins president in making former feds ‘central figures’
This time, Donald Trump was less animated while dramatizing the pillow talk. But the president still went there Tuesday night, eager to turn two former FBI employees into characters in the 2020 campaign narrative he’s building. And some of his congressional GOP allies are happy to help.
“I love you so much, Lisa. Please, Lisa! Lisa, I’ve never loved anyone like you. We won’t allow this to happen to our Lisa,” Trump told an arena full of supporters in Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Please tell me you love me, Lisa! I love you, Peter. I love you! I love you like I’ve never loved anyone!”
The president again gyrated — this time, just a bit — as he acted out his own vision of an intimate moment between former FBI counterespionage Chief Peter Strzok and former bureau attorney Lisa Page while discussing the 2016 presidential election.
Trump for months has criticized the two for trading texts about Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the then-Democratic nominee, during the 2016 campaign while the pair were romantically linked. The president argues their concerns about him compromised the FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling in the election.
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That probe, eventually completed by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, did not exonerate Trump and his 2016 campaign. Mueller stated one major reason he did not recommend criminal charges against Trump are DOJ guidelines that a sitting commander in chief cannot be indicted.
Trump holds grudges. Among those on his get-even list: Former FBI Director James Comey, Mueller, House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Clinton, the NFL … and the list goes on.
He also spots political foils and transforms them into embellished figures his supporters can easily understand — and deeply dislike. (Think “Crooked Hillary” and “Lock her up chants!”) Republican lawmakers see the same in Strzok and Page.
“These are two central figures in this debacle,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said at a hearing about a Justice Department inspector general report that found no political bias — but ample errors — at play with the 2016 election meddling probe. “Let me tell you a little bit about who these people are and where they’re coming from.”
The South Carolina Republican, who has gone from a top Trump critic to one of his closest congressional allies, read aloud from Strzok-Page text messages.
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“March 3rd, 2016, Page: ‘God, Trump is a loathsome human,’” Graham said. “Strzok: ‘Oh, my God, he’s an idiot.’”
Tuesday evening was not the first time Trump went with the love scene to cast what he calls “the lovers” in a sinister light.
“I love you, Peter! I love you too Lisa! Lisa, I love you,” the president said in October at a rally in Minnesota, shaking his torso, arms and head as if overcome by erotic longing. “Lisa! Lisa! Oh God! I love you, Lisa!
“And if [Hillary Clinton] doesn’t win, Lisa, we’ve got an insurance policy, Lisa! We’ll get that son of a bitch out,” Trump-as-Strzok said.
It was that Minnesota rally that prompted Page to conduct her first interview, earlier this month with The Daily Beast. She told the publication that Trump’s comments about her are “like being punched in the gut.”
“My heart drops to my stomach when I realize he has tweeted about me again,” she said. “The president of the United States is calling me names to the entire world. He’s demeaning me and my career. It’s sickening.”
On Tuesday, she filed a lawsuit against the FBI and Justice Department, seeking damages for loss of reputation and earning capacity.