Fired FBI agent Peter Strzok went into special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation thinking it might end in impeachment and advance his career, former paramour Lisa Page told congressional investigators last year, according to a transcript released Tuesday.
Ms. Page also said decisions to allow former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aides to sit in on her FBI interview in 2016, and not to pursue gross negligence charges against her for her secret emails, were made by the Justice Department. She identified two lawyers at the department who she said made that decision.
Transcripts from two interviews that the House conducted with Ms. Page were released by Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
He entered the transcripts into the Congressional Record and released them over the reluctance of the Justice Department, which he said had been slow-walking their publication.
Last week, he released a transcript from Bruce Ohr, the Justice Department official who passed the salacious anti-Trump “Steele dossier” into the government’s hands.
Mr. Collins said the interviews give a picture of a small cabal at the FBI and Justice Department that was intent on trying to thwart the election of President Trump and then worked to investigate him once he was in office.
“The American people deserve to know what transpired in the highest echelons of the FBI during that tumultuous time for the bureau,” Mr. Collins said Tuesday.
Ms. Page was a lawyer working for then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe during the time in question. She was having an affair with Mr. Strzok, a lead agent on some of the key investigations involving Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump.
According to the transcripts, Ms. Page said she considered the investigation of Mr. Trump to be more serious than the one about Mrs. Clinton’s mishandling of top-secret information.
“The Clinton investigation was whether she mishandled classified information. That’s important. It matters, but it does not matter like a person associated with a presidential campaign receiving and potentially accepting, which we didn’t know, obviously, but the risk that somebody had received and accepted an offer of assistance from Russia, which I view as our sort of most treacherous adversary,” she said.
Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok exchanged thousands of text messages, including a number that suggested severe bias against Mr. Trump from early on.
In one series of texts from August 2016, they viewed their roles investigating Mr. Trump as prophetic.
“Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” Ms. Page texted Mr. Strzok.
During her House interview, she confirmed that the “menace” was Mr. Trump.
Mr. Strzok seemed conflicted about whether it was worth joining the special counsel’s investigation in 2017, given that it might peter out with nothing to show.
Ms. Page told the House committees that didn’t necessarily mean he wanted to find something, but he did have his eye on career advancement and a major takedown of a president would help that.
“If it’s going to end in impeachment, that’s kind of a big deal,” she said. “I mean, put aside who it is, put aside how we feel about it. You know, that’s monumental. People who are on Watergate are still known as somebody who was on Watergate.”
She insisted that wasn’t an attack on Mr. Trump, though.
“It’s about being on an unbelievably kick-ass team and being a part of, you know, something impressive,” she said.
Mr. Strzok ultimately was part of the team and worked for Mr. Mueller until the anti-Trump texts came to light. Mr. Mueller removed Mr. Strzok from the team and was fired by the FBI last summer.
Ms. Page left the bureau months earlier.