Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic clinging to an old-fashioned idea that power really is “the ultimate aphrodisiac,” as Henry Kissinger once said.
So while pundits debate how the Justice Department and FBI will ever recover from the latest inspector general’s report, I find myself wondering . . . hoping that Washington’s most famous power lovers, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, are somehow still getting it on.
I understand the marital complications involved. I’m also enough of an Inside-the-Beltway realist to know they must have been told by lawyers to keep their distance. But if anything comes through in the 7,000-plus text messages they sent back and forth, it’s this: These two deep state soul mates were made for each other.
When President Donald Trump fired their boss FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, the exchange of messages showed how much Strzok and Page need one another, professionally and emotionally.
“Having a tough time processing tonight, Lis. Feeling a profound sense of loss,” Strzok wrote about Comey’s firing.
“I feel that same loss,” Page responded. “I want to see what the FBI could become under him! His vision of greatness for our strong but flawed organization. I’m angry . . .”
Anyone who’s ever fallen in love at work, then done a mental cost-benefit analysis, can see what’s going on.
So imagine my shock when a close observer of the situation told me her theory, that the whole story of a love affair between the two was special-prosecutorial spin designed to soften the impact of their text messages.
I’ll admit part of me is cynical enough to think that might be true. At this point, I wouldn’t put anything past the entrenched special interests that run this town.
But the romantic part of me sees Strzok and Page’s office texting as a high-level form of office sexting. No pet names or motel addresses, but to the trained eye and ear plenty of body heat.
Never thinking their messages would be made public, yet careful not to let their feelings violate Bureau regulations, it’s almost as if they’re a pair of courtly lovers, couching their passions in political outbursts.
What seemed to get them going more than anything else was a mutual dislike for Trump and Russia, not necessarily in that order.
During the summer of 2016, when he began investigating Russian interference in the presidential campaign and election, Strzok, an expert in counterintelligence, went completely bonkers.
“F*ck the cheating motherf*cking Russians,” he texted Page. “Bastards. I hate them.”
But wait. There’s more.
“I think they’re probably the worst,” he writes. “F*cking conniving, cheating savages. At statecraft, athletics, you name it. I’m glad I’m on Team USA.”
“Team USA . . .” Interesting choice of words. Here’s a guy with scoring on his mind.
As the election drew near, Page came to rely on Strzok’s forceful reassurance there would be a happy ending.
“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” she texted Strzok.
“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok answered.
After Trump won it was Page’s turn to vent. “OMG I am so depressed,” she wrote to Strzok. “I don’t know if I can eat. I am very nauseous.”
Was this a preview of things to come?
By May 2017, both were talking about joining Robert Mueller’s special prosecution team. But what about their relationship? Could it survive the public attention? Not to mention attention from prosecutors on the Russia probe. These people were pit bulls.
Talk about unintended consequences. Would Trump’s election blow their cover?
They signed on with Mueller, and a month later Page was already having second thoughts, telling Strzok she “might leave” the special counsel’s office and go back to the Bureau. Not a good sign.
Bringing Trump down was their dream, what got their juices flowing. Weren’t they in this together? But the fates had something else in store. One would go. One would stay. And eventually, the one who stayed would go to Human Resources.
“Please, don’t ever text me again,” Page wrote to Strzok in June 2017. And just like that, it was over.
It could be the romantic in me again, but in end, after the grand jury indictments and plea bargains, I want to think that somewhere there’s a place for Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and in that place love will keep them together.
Or at least as together as two co-defendants can be.