What a lovely Thanksgiving break from Donald Trump tweets we had as the president maintained relative silence on the social media platform over the long weekend, posting only a few retweets probably handled by his staff.
The president returned to Twitter with a vengeance on Monday morning. however, responding to the first major interview with former FBI lawyer — and target of Trump’s paranoid conspiracy theories — Lisa Page that was published by The Daily Beast.
In the interview, Page — who was romantically involved with Peter Strzok, the FBI agent leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — broke her own silence on Trump’s attempt to paint her as a partisan criminal in the FBI’s inquiry into the Trump campaign’s ties to Vladimir Putin.
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Her first public remarks on the president’s highly personal attacks on her come after the Justice Department’s inspector general has just completed his yet-to-be-released report on the investigation.
The IG’s report is expected to confirm what most of us already assumed — that the president’s accusations of being illegally surveilled amounted to yet another one of his discredited conspiracy theories designed to take attention away from his own criminal behavior.
Page expresses her anger and frustration in her interview with The Daily Beast at being used as a political tool by the ethics-free president, particularly after she has been cleared by the inspector general. She realizes, however, that she will continue to be a villain in the eyes of Trump’s Republican base.
“While it would be nice to have the IG confirm publicly that my personal opinions had absolutely no bearing on the course of the Russia investigations, I don’t kid myself that the fact will matter very much for a lot of people. The president has a very loud megaphone,” Page told The Daily Beast.
She also defended her behavior by saying that “There’s no fathomable way I have committed any crime at all.”
After seeing the interview, Trump naturally had to renew his attack on Page and continue to promote his now-disproven fantasy that he was a victim of a vast deep-state conspiracy.
When Lisa Page, the lover of Peter Strzok, talks about being “crushed”, and how innocent she is, ask her to read Peter’s “Insurance Policy” text, to her, just in case Hillary loses. Also, why were the lovers text messages scrubbed after he left Mueller. Where are they Lisa?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2019
Trump’s tweet reeks of “what-about-ism,” a typical tactic of someone who can’t defend the substance of their argument, so they try to distract from the main issue at hand — that Page and the other FBI officials investigating his campaign did absolutely nothing wrong in their conduct of the investigation — by negating the expected inspector general’s report in advance of its release.
This is the same tactic the president and his criminally compliant Attorney General William Barr used in advance of the release of the Mueller Report to spread a gross mischaracterization of those findings to the public before they got a chance to see the results of the report itself.
While it’s clear from both the interview with Page and from Trump’s barrage of attacks on the former FBI lawyer for the past two-plus years that she is the real victim here, the president continues his to paint himself as the victim of those who want to hold him accountable for his and his campaign’s behavior — accountability being something that this entitled recipient of inherited wealth has never had to face prior to his entry into politics.
As for Page, she is unlikely to be further upset by Trump’s latest assault on her character, having steeled and resigned herself to being one of the president’s prime targets. She is, however, severely disturbed by the transformation of the Justice Department under the Trump administration, as we all should be.
“It’s crushing to see the noble Justice Department, my Justice Department, the place I grew up in, feel like it’s abandoned its principles of truth and independence,” she told The Daily Beast.
Until Trump is removed from office — either through impeachment or, if we can possibly wait that long, through the ballot box — the Justice Department will have to wait to see any nobility, truth, and independence restored.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Molly Jong-Fast at The Daily Beast.