Republicans say they have new leads to pursue regarding the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation following the second day of a closed-door interview with Lisa Page, the former FBI lawyer who exchanged text messages with an FBI agent critical of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Page appeared on Capitol Hill on Monday for a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee.
Page and Peter Strzok, who testified publicly in a fiery marathon hearing on Capitol Hill last Thursday, are at the center of Republican concern about political bias at the FBI and Justice Department regarding the handling of the Russia and Clinton email investigations.
Rep. John Ratcliff, R-Texas, told reporters that Page has been more cooperative than Strzok in her interview, offering lawmakers “plausible answers” and “plausible explanations.”
“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to Agent Strzok, who thinks that we’ve all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative,” Ratcliff told reporters.
“She’s certainly more cooperative than Peter Strzok was and the pieces of information filled in some blanks along the way, but we’ve got a huge jigsaw puzzle to put together,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, agreed.
King said he wrote a letter to committee leaders Monday requesting they subpoena additional information, including text messages between Page and Strzok sent on their personal devices, though he predicted President Trump would need to declassify certain details.
“I wanna see the names of everyone who interviewed Hillary Clinton on July 2, 2016,” King demanded. “I wanna see their notes. I want to consider bringing each of them forward to testify what went on inside that room and then see if their notes and their testimony matches up to the 302 document that in the end was the basis that Peter Strzok briefed James Comey off of.”
King added that he would like to learn the names of the FISA judges, any FISA warrant requests and supporting documents.
“The president of the United States appears to be the only one who has the power and authority to bring all of this information forward. The American people deserve access to all of this information,” King said. “We need to know the information that was brought forward and who prepared it because we’ve got a tainted investigation here put together by some very, very biased people.”
President Trump, speaking in Helsinki Monday at the end of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, lashed out at Strzok, who testified about his texts with Page while Trump attended the NATO summit in Belgium.
“And if anybody watched Peter Strzok testify over the last couple of days — and I was in Brussels watching it — it was a disgrace to the FBI, it was a disgrace to our country, and, you would say, that was a total witch hunt.”
Not every Republican was as satisfied with Page’s performance. Rep. Darrell Issa, a senior member of the committee, told reporters that he believes Page was “an evasive witness” because she continually sought FBI counsel’s advice on whether to answer certain questions.
“It’s very clear that Lisa Page would like to answer questions when they’re asked in general, ‘How do you feel,’ and unwilling to answer any specific questions,” Issa, a California Republican, said.
As she left the Capitol, Page refused to speak to reporters about the closed-door interview, which totaled about nine hours over two days of questioning from the committee.