Lisa Page announce on Twitter today that she had sued the Department of Justice and the FBI for leaking her text messages to the media:
I sued the Department of Justice and FBI today.
I take little joy in having done so. But what they did in leaking my messages to the press was not only wrong, it was illegal.https://t.co/ecR58rmxlB
— Lisa Page (@NatSecLisa) December 10, 2019
According to the complaint, the agencies, “violated the Privacy Act by unlawfully disclosing agency records pertaining to Plaintiff—namely, a 90-page document reflecting 375 text messages between Plaintiff and another FBI employee—to a group of reporters.” The complaint describes the leak as “clandestine” saying DOJ summoned “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.”
Though he’s not a target of the lawsuit, Page blames the leak on President Trump: “the officials who authorized the disclosure and their allies sought to use, and ultimately did use, the messages to promote the false narrative that Plaintiff and others at the FBI were biased against President Trump, had conspired to undermine him, and otherwise had engaged in allegedly criminal acts, including treason.” The complaint goes on to say that Trump has tweeted about Page at least 40 times since the leak.
Does Page have a case? I’m not an attorney but looking around it seems state courts have been attempting to deal with the issue of public and private records on cell phones for several years. In general, texts on a government phone are considered public records if they have anything to do with someone’s job. But messages on a private phone can also be deemed public records if they were work related. This is why the State Department eventually asked Hillary to turn over despite the fact they were maintained on a private server in her basement.
Given that the texts Page is suing over were made on a government phone and involved her communicating with someone else inside the FBI, those messages would seem to be government records unless the individual texts were exclusively personal in nature.
What Page does have going for her is the OIG determination that there was no clear indication of partisan bias in the Clinton email investigation. So when she texted Strzok, “[Trump is] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” and he responded, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” she can argue that was a private conversation, not one about work.
That’s not to say that Strzok and Page weren’t biased on that there’s no proof that bias was “work related” in the sense that it impacted their decisions. Of course the IG did say in his previous report that Strzok appeared to sit on the Clinton email investigation in the final weeks of the election. Ironically, that decision may have set in motion events that helped Trump win the election. But Page will argue the texts show a personal bias that means they weren’t public records. Again, I’m not an attorney but that seems to be the gist of where this is going. We’ll have to wait and see if the court buys her argument.
Earlier this month, Page told the Daily Beast she decided to fight back after what she described as President Trump acting out an orgasm at one of his rallies in October. “It had been so hard not to defend myself, to let people who hate me control the narrative. I decided to take my power back,” she said.