Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page has defied a congressional subpoena to testify about anti-Trump text message exchanges on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Politico reports. The president has referred to the FBI investigation as a “rigged witch hunt” on several occasions.
President Trump accused Page and her “FBI lover,” Agent Peter Strzok, of “getting cold feet” about their testimony on Twitter Monday.
Page was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee for her voluntary testimony and had been scheduled to appear in a closed-door joint session with the House Judiciary and the House Oversight committees.
Strzok and Page were both members of the special counsel Robert Mueller had appointed to run the Russian investigation. Strzok was having an extramarital affair with Page during the case and was also subpoenaed by congressional investigators following the discovery of the anti-Trump text messages. He is slated to appear in a hearing open to the public on Thursday, according to The Washington Examiner.
The Justice Department investigated text exchanges between the two in a June report conducted by the Inspector General. This report delved into the FBI’s audit of Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign, as well as the ongoing inspection of contacts between Russia and Trump during that time.
“I am very disturbed by this,” speaker Paul Ryan said at the news conference Wednesday. “Congressional subpoenas for testimony are not optional… She was part of a mess that they have uncovered over at DOJ. She has an obligation to come testify.”
“If she wants to come plead the Fifth, that’s her choice,” he added. “But a subpoena to testify before Congress is not optional. It’s mandatory. She needs to comply.”
Ryan’s commentary supported Bob Goodlatte, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman who issued the subpoena for her testimony on Saturday and openly criticized her decision not to appear in court.
Page’s attorney, Amy Jeffress, countered by saying that her client is willing to cooperate but was denied the opportunity to prepare for the hearing by not having access to essential FBI files.
“Through her actions and words, Lisa has made it abundantly clear that she will cooperate with this investigation,” Jeffress said in a statement released Wednesday morning. “All she is asking is to be treated as other witnesses have under the Committees’ own rules.”
Jeffress said that Page will testify later this month if she is given access to the FBI files. It is still unclear if the House will hold her in contempt or reach an agreement for her to deliver her testimony at a later date.