Drain the Swamp

Page Faces Contempt Charge and More if She Doesn’t Testify This Week

'The Ingraham Angle' guests explain why former FBI lawyer could face drastic congressional sanctions, including the possibility of confinement, unless she starts talking

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page will be held in contempt of Congress if she fails to comply with her subpoena to testify by Friday, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) warned Wednesday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

“I’m hopeful we’ll see her tomorrow or Friday,” said Meadows (pictured above left), adding that Page “will be held in contempt” if she does not appear before Congress on Thursday or Friday.

Page participated in the FBI’s politically charged investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state.

Page also engaged in a relationship with FBI agent Peter Strzok, a former top counterintelligence official who participated in both the Clinton investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign officials and Russia.

Mueller removed Strzok from the team after his anti-Trump and pro-Clinton text messages with Page came to his attention.

Strzok testified in a closed session before Congress in late June, and Page was subpoenaed to testify before Congress Wednesday. But Page never appeared. Her lawyer, Amy Jeffress, told CNN that Page “went to the FBI today to review the materials that were previously produced to Congress relating to her proposed interview, but after waiting for more than three hours, we were not provided with any documents.”

Jeffress continued, “We have asked the committees to schedule another date that would allow sufficient time for her to prepare. The committees have not honored this request. As a result, Lisa is not going to appear for an interview at this time.”

But Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the lawyer’s account was false. He called the Department of Justice (DOJ) and heard a different story.

“I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt this morning until I called DOJ. And there’s three problems with that: One, she’s had seven months to prepare, [because] we started initially asking her to come in in December of 2017,” Meadows said. “Secondly, she wasn’t even going to be prepared — [the] FBI reached out to her counsel to say, ‘By the way, you may want to come in and review some of these documents.'”

Related: Five Ways Congress Can Stop the FBI’s Trump-Russia Coverup

“And then the third thing is actually she reviewed documents yesterday at 3:45, reviewed most of the documents. The only thing she didn’t review was top-secret documents that we didn’t anticipate any questions arising from anyway,” Meadows explained. “So the attorney is doing a disservice to her to suggest that she was going to come in a voluntary manner.”

If Page fails to comply with her subpoena by Friday, Meadows said she will get “referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution.”

“It creates another issue because then … it’s incumbent on the DOJ to actually act and press charges,” Meadows warned. “We actually have other constitutional ways to do it.”

But if the DOJ fails to act, then Congress must, Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz (pictured above right) told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

“But if the Justice Department doesn’t do it, Congress is an independent branch of government. It can hold somebody in contempt. It can literally order the person to go into the basement jail cell, and then that person would have to go to court to seek a writ of habeas corpus,” Dershowitz explained.

“It’s almost never done … It’s rarely done today. But it’s rare that the Justice Department doesn’t go after somebody and enforce a subpoena,” Dershowitz continued. “So we may see a conflict between this Justice Department and the legislative branch.”

The last time Congress imprisoned an individual for defying a congressional subpoena was in 1935. A 2014 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, however, made clear the legislative branch continues to have under its inherent contempt powers the authority to confine an individual who defies a subpoena.

Related: Lisa Page Defies Subpoena, Tells Congress She Needs More Time

“But in the end, the legislative branch must enforce its own subpoenas, and the Justice Department must comply with that,” Dershowitz insisted. “Otherwise, our separation of powers and checks and balances is really in trouble.”

Even if Page and her lawyer offered viable excuses for her failure to comply with the congressional subpoena, “You don’t just don’t show up” for the hearing, Dershowitz said. “You write a letter to the committee asking the committee to give you more time to review. But the idea of just not showing up makes no sense at all.”

Dershowitz claimed Strzok “doesn’t want to testify in public,” and Page “doesn’t want to testify at all” because “there is no way they can explain” their text messages.

“The American public has to hear everything,” Dershowitz said.

Meadows noted that Congress and the American people have Strzok’s and Page’s “own words” in those text messages — “not my words” and “not Alan’s words.”

“We’re seeing a growing body of evidence that says that there was actual coordination — not only just with the FBI and DOJ as it relates to this investigation, but perhaps with other agencies that really create a real troubling message,” Meadows warned. “If [they’re] putting even a pinky on the scale of justice, that’s wrong, and we can’t have that. Transparency — I’m for making it all transparent.”

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at kathryn.blackhurst[email protected].