GOP lawmakers may hold Lisa Page in contempt

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page may find herself in contempt after not appearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill, despite a concerted effort by her attorney to explain her no-show.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. said in a Wednesday afternoon letter to Page’s attorney Amy Jeffress that her client could be held in contempt as early as Friday morning.

Page can either appear Thursday at a scheduled public hearing along FBI agent Peter Strzok, or “present herself for a deposition on Friday, July 13, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.”

“This option would stay contempt proceedings and resolve the Committees’ need to depose your client,” the lawmakers wrote. Page could also appear both Thursday publicly and Friday privately, if she so chooses.

If she does not appear at either, House Judiciary “intends to initiate contempt proceedings on Friday, July 13, 2018, at 10:30 a.m.,” the Goodlatte and Gowdy letter said.

Goodlatte and Gowdy had originally sent a letter to the Justice Department on Dec. 19, 2017 requesting Page be made available for a transcribed interview. The two chairmen again asked for Page’s cooperation in an April 16 letter.

In June, Goodlatte and Gowdy then wrote a letter to Jeffress asking that Page be made available immediately for a transcribed interview.

According to Goodlatte, counsel for the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees have been in contact with Jeffress “for nearly a month now” about Wednesday’s appearance.

“When she says that she has not had ample time to prepare, that is belied by those facts,” he said in an appearance earlier Wednesday on Fox News. “This subpoena is still in effect. She should comply with it.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said earlier Wednesday he was “very disturbed” by Page’s refusal to show up, and also said he is considering contempt of Congress.

“She was a part of the mess that we uncovered over at DOJ,” said Ryan, R-Wisc. “She has an obligation to come and testify. If she wants to come plead the Fifth that’s her choice, but a subpoena to testify before Congress is not optional, it’s mandatory. We will do what we need to do to protect this branch of government.”

Page’s messages with Strzok, a FBI agent with whom she was having an extramarital affair, originally became public as part of an inspector general investigation at the Department of Justice. Both Page and Strzok had worked on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and both were working on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The two were named heavily in a recent Justice Department inspector general report about the two FBI probes, mostly for their text messages disparaging then-candidate Donald Trump. Page and Strzok were also on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team before they were removed.

Jeffress said in a statement Wednesday morning that Page is willing to talk later this month to the committees, explaining that her client didn’t appear Wednesday because the committee had not provided enough detail on the scope of lawmakers’ questions, and the FBI had not provided documents for her to review ahead of the testimony. There was also an apparent glitch when Jeffress and Page went to the FBI on Tuesday, so they were unable to view everything they wanted.

“I received a message from the Department of Justice after 11 pm last night that they have finally granted her request to review the relevant documents. We are working to arrange that process quickly so that we can move forward with her appearance before the Committees,” Jeffress said in the statement. “There is no basis for claims that Lisa has anything to hide or is unwilling to testify.”

Strzok testified for 11 hours behind closed doors last month with the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, and will appear publicly before the two panels Thursday morning.

House Republicans have seized on the Page and Strzok text messages as clear examples of bias atop the FBI and Justice Department.

“I am on Air Force One flying to NATO and hear reports that the FBI lovers, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page are getting cold feet on testifying about the Rigged Witch Hunt headed by 13 Angry Democrats and people that worked for Obama for 8 years. Total disgrace!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

The president also chided Page in a Wednesday afternoon tweet while attending NATO’s annual summit in Brussels.

“Ex-FBI LAYER Lisa Page today defied a House of Representatives issued Subpoena to testify before Congress! Wow, but is anybody really surprised! Together with her lover, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, she worked on the Rigged Witch Hunt, perhaps the most tainted and corrupt case EVER!” Trump tweeted.

Meanwhile, House Democrats have dismissed the ongoing investigation into and interviews with Page and Strzok as “a political charade” and an effort to discredit Mueller’s probe.

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