The text messages exchanged between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page have become central to what is, quite possibly, the most serious political scandal in American history. Yet, only a handful of these texts have been publicly discussed. The entire body of messages released thus far tells a more complicated story. Page and Strzok are not just the two-dimensional characters portrayed so far in the news and on social media – for better or worse.

Who, then, are they really? What motivates them? What thoughts, aspirations, and intentions did they share in this trove of texts? A complete reading of their correspondence, or that which is available to us, adds considerably more complexity to their characters; surprising in some ways, but, in other ways, predictable.

In the eyes of most Republicans and conservatives and, certainly, the staunchest supporters of President Donald J. Trump, Strzok and Page were political zealots bent on ensuring Hillary Clinton would become president. When that failed, the two went to work on a scheme to undermine – and perhaps even bring down – the man who won the presidency; a man they hated, despised, and feared.

Beliefs and Motivations

Whilst some of that may well be spot-on, the story is not complete without understanding who these two people are – and who they are not. The ultimate irony is that, in trying to do what they genuinely believed to be right, they became the very definition of that which they both clearly hated.

Peter Strzok was a senior agent, specializing in counterintelligence. Lisa Page was an attorney who became counsel to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Neither Page nor Strzok are what would commonly be called political fanatics; they do not reveal themselves as political extremists.

In one message, Strzok describes himself as a “conservative Democrat.” Page did not directly claim a political ideology, but she appears in the communications as, perhaps, a little further to the left than her paramour.

Both share a distaste for having to deal with politics in the workplace. From their remarks on the subject, however, it is not entirely evident whether they were speaking of actual party politics or ‘office politics.’ It is also quite clear that they were regularly involved in the latter.

The two did not like extremism; to them, Bernie Sanders supporters were idiots and young, naïve fools, while right-wing extremists (including, as they saw it, Trump supporters) terrified them. They shared a disdain for Eric Holder and differed from each other about Chelsea Clinton:

July 2016 – PAGE: “I like Chelsea fine. Why not?” STRZOK: “Self entitled. Thinks she deserves something she hasn’t earned.”

Loyalty to Whom?

They were both devoted to the FBI and, in particular, to McCabe and former Director James Comey. It is not easy to tell, in fact, if their loyalty to the Bureau was greater than, or equal to, their loyalty to their immediate superiors. They had enormous professional respect for each other. Lisa believed “Pete” was a brilliant agent and it seemed that this sentiment is shared by Strzok himself. Indeed, he is a man confident in his abilities, experience, and competence. He is ambitious and pragmatic. He fully reciprocated Page’s admiration for him. He reminded her often that she was an accomplished attorney, capable of taking on any task. For her part, Page seems less confident in her own abilities and even her work ethic.

Page and Strzok also reveal themselves in these texts as idealistically patriotic. Recounting to Page the Democratic Convention’s nomination of Mrs. Clinton, Strzok said, “If they had played patriotic music or did something with the flag and an honor guard, I probably would have teared up.” Strzok expresses his love of country numerous times and apparently believes that no other nation on earth measures up. He credits America as  “exceptional,” though once again Page seems less convinced.

Country and Politics

It seems difficult to deny that these two were willing to use their positions to help ensure Mrs. Clinton’s campaign was not derailed by legal troubles. It also appears very likely that they may both have been aware of, and party to, some undefined effort to damage Trump’s presidency, which included but may not have been limited to:

  • The altering of Comey’s exoneration statement on Clinton.
  • The mention of a  “secret society” on the very day the final election results came in and Trump was confirmed as the winner.
  • The discussions of a meeting of top FBI officials, away from the bureau’s headquarters, shortly after Trump’s inauguration.
  • Not least, Strzok’s fervent belief that being assigned to Robert Mueller’s special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the election was, at least for Page, a patriotic duty. “Your country needs you,” he told her.

Reading through all their texts, in which they often referred to political figures on both sides of the divide, it is quite clear that neither of them has any love for Republicans. The one exception appeared to be former presidential candidate John Kasich, whose party affiliation seemed to mystify them both. How is Kasich not a Democrat, the pair wondered to each other. The couple unmistakably loathed Ted Cruz, wondering if he would be a worse president than Trump. (Trump would be worse, Page concluded.)

Page was full of admiration for the Obamas, even while acknowledging that the president had made mistakes and had not been good on foreign policy. Their strongest negative political feelings, however, were reserved for Trump. They both utterly despised him but also genuinely feared what would happen to the country, were he to become president.

Caught in The Bubble

Strzok and Page share a healthy disdain for the Department of Justice. They view it as incompetent, overly political (again, party politics or office politics remains unclear), and they dislike the fact that DOJ officials apparently look down upon the FBI. The two seem to abhor Congress and appear to believe that oversight of the Bureau is akin to meddling in their work.

June 2016 – PAGE: “Hi. Just leaving my meeting now. How we make law in this country is offensive and irresponsible.” STRZOK: “I know it is. It’s why I LOATHE congress. Can’t wait to hear the story.”

At the same time, it is clear that they firmly believe in civil liberties and oppose oppressive government.

Nov 2015 – STRZOK: “Yeah. Listening to the news, France’s state of emergency allows the state to exercize censorship across all media and suspends requirements for warrants to enter private spaces. How’s that transparency and privacy rights for you, EU?” PAGE: “Yeah, no s***.”

A thorough reading of these texts gives one the impression of two people totally caught up in their little world. Probably 97% of the messages revealed so far discuss work, professional schedules as well as thoughts and feelings about co-workers, underlings, and superiors. The Bureau was their ecosphere; their bubble. Beyond it, the only knowledge the two of them have of everything else seems to come from media articles they shared – mainly from The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and NPR, with the occasional Wall Street Journal piece.

Thus, their view of Trump was created by the very media outlets that reviled him. It is obvious they did not know Trump the man or Trump the would-be politician beyond what they learned about him from the media. Therefore, they view the soon-to-be president as a raging racist and a monster. His supporters, they saw as hillbillies, ignorant fools, and violent ‘white nationalists.’

Strzok: “…I think it’s clear he’s {Trump is] capturing all the white, ;poor voters who the mainstream Republicans abandoned in all but name in the quest for the almighty $$$$.” (July 2016)

Lisa Page indicated she was not comfortable being assigned to the special counsel. She thought herself a small fish in a big pond; in over her head. Peter Strzok, who was assigned later (partly as a result of Page’s efforts) thought it a great, patriotic endeavor and he considered it a marvelous addition to his resume, as he was considering retirement after his task there was completed. There is no indication that either imagined the special counsel was going to lead to indictments. Perhaps they both hoped that its mere existence was enough to damage Trump’s presidency. Whether either of them believed the Russians had interfered with the election is not clear but, certainly, neither one seemed to think that the Trump campaign had actively colluded with the Russians.

The Lure of Dangerous Idealism

In the end, then, these devoted officials – who both already had an eye on the private sector – became caught up in the anti-Trump frenzy that swept across half the nation in 2016. They did not swoon over Clinton – one of them even remarking that the media was in the tank for her.

Strzok (April 2016): This is clear and utter bias by the media specifically the NYTIMES, WAPO, and CNN who if you look at all of them have large donors for Clinton.

It was clear, though, that both Page and Strzok thought it vital that Clinton should become president if only to save the nation from her opponent. Over time, the two went from a sense of assurance that Trump could not win to a growing nervousness that he might and finally to despair once he succeeded.

The concluding judgment on how far either Page or Strzok went to try to affect the outcome of the election – or what they may have done or attempted to do to undermine President Trump – may have to wait for the release of even more of their text messages. Perhaps, that judgment may not come until the Department of Justice’s Inspector General delivers his conclusions. At the very least, however, these two people appear to have been almost overwhelmed by their political feelings at a time when both were central players in highly political investigations.

What do their text messages really shed light upon? Mismanagement at the FBI and/or DOJ? Merely the personal feelings of two public servants seemingly caught up in dangerously idealistic behavior? Or, perhaps, will these texts lead to the unearthing of an actual plot within the FBI to determine the course of American political history?


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Graham J Noble

Political Correspondent & Satirist at

Raised and inspired by his father, a World War II veteran, Graham learned early in life how to laugh and be a gentleman. After attending college, he decided to join the British Army, where he served for several years and saw combat on four continents. In addition to being a news and politics junkie, Graham loves laughter, drinking and the outdoors. Combining all three gives him the most pleasure. Individual liberty is one of the few things he takes seriously.



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