Sometimes Democrats are bullied by Republicans into denouncing critical-thinking people who see through the morass of bureaucratic regulations and commit a minor transgression. I’m talking about piling on FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for criticizing then presidential candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 race. They exchanged text messages in which Trump was called an “idiot,” and more.
Yes, in one sort of ideal world, it would be proper if FBI agents, and even all government employees, were thoroughly non-partisan in American politics. But like all rules, there is a need for exceptions when circumstances go outside the bounds of questionable behavior. In other words, when there is a threat that power will become too concentrated in the wrong hands and steps are taken towards undermining the fabric of our democracy, something must be done. It becomes reasonable for government agents to think about these issues and even to share them with one another and others. That’s precisely what Strzok and Page did.
Here is some of what Agents Strzok and Page texted to one another, as reported in the Washington Examiner on July 2, 2018:
In November 2015, Page said she hopes House Speaker Paul Ryan “falls and crashes in a blaze of glory,” to which Strzok replied: “Yes, And me too. At some point the Rep party needs to pull their head out of their *ss. Shows no sign of occurring any time soon.”
In March 2016, Strzok and Page discuss telling someone who they will vote for in the coming 2016 presidential election.
Strzok texted Page, “I suppose Hillary,” and then moments later, “I would D [Democrat.”
“He doesn’t think you’re an R, does he?” Page asked Strzok, but it is unclear who “he is.
Strzok replied in a series of texts, “He think I wouldn’t vote for her right now. He knows I’m a conservative Dem. But now I wonder.”
Days after the exchange — March 2016 — Page texted Strzok, “God trump is a loathsome human,” to which Strzok replies, “Yet he may win.”
Moments later, Strzok asked whether Trump would be a worse president than Sen. Ted Cruz, to which Page says, “Trump? Yes, I think so.”
FBI agents are citizens of our country. They cannot be expected to thoroughly turn off their thought processes and let the flow go wherever it may. That would be totally contrary to how they are trained to do their jobs.
It may be that Democrats have no way of removing Trump from office other than through the electoral process, although there are some who doubt even that will work. But because of Trump’s coziness with Russia, his disregard for the U.S. Constitution, his impulsive behavior and his lack of qualified advisers, he puts us all at risk every single day. We as individual citizens are largely helpless except to the extent that we can participate in the political process. But those among us who are in intelligence agencies such as the FBI can keep close eyes on what is happening. It is important that they recognize that this is not a normal presidency and extreme caution is needed.
As is so often the case, what Strzok and Page communicated with one another may not have been the problem. It was their lack of care in using government devices for texting.
The FBI higher-ups were left with little choice but to dismiss them. I only hope that in the aftermath, we have plenty of other federal agents who share their views and are more careful in their communication techniques. When all is said and done, there may be quite a few people thanking Strzok and Page.