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House panels give ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page two last chances to testify

Billy House, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page is being given two final options to appear by the end of the week before two House committees investigating her anti-Trump text exchanges with a bureau agent in 2016 -- or face potential contempt action from Congress.

Page is being given the choice of appearing at an already-scheduled joint public hearing Thursday before the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees or attending a closed-door deposition Friday, or both.

If Page doesn't agree to either of these options, the chairmen of the two panels, Judiciary's Bob Goodlatte and Oversight's Trey Gowdy, told her lawyer that she would face contempt of Congress proceedings.

"The Judiciary Committee intends to initiate contempt proceedings on Friday, July 13, 2018, at 10:30 a.m.," they wrote in a letter Wednesday to her lawyer, Amy Jeffress.

Page was subpoenaed to provide a deposition behind closed doors Wednesday, but she didn't appear under Jeffress' advice. That deposition had been intended by Republicans to set the stage for an open hearing scheduled by the same panels Thursday with FBI Agent Peter Strzok, with whom she had a romantic relationship. The pair exchanged texts sharply critical of Donald Trump when he was running for president in 2016.

Even several committee Republicans don't expect that Page will seriously consider taking up the offer for her to appear at the hearing Thursday, to be questioned alongside Strzok.

Trump and his supporters contend that bias tainted the early stages of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump continued his criticism of Page and Strzok on Twitter Wednesday from Europe, where he had attended a NATO summit.

Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the party's ranking member on the Oversight panel, said the Republicans' focus on Page and Strzok was intended to undermine the Russia investigation now being run by special counsel Robert Mueller.

In a letter to the committees' chairmen, they said an inquiry originally billed as reviewing the investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server "has morphed into a partisan, abusive, and improper inquisition of Special Counsel Mueller's investigation of President Trump's campaign and its connections to Russia."

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