GOP reps threaten maligned Federal Bureau of Investigation agent with contempt in House hearing

Howard TerryJul 13, 2018

Chalian was referring to an explosive text exchange between Strzok and Federal Bureau of Investigation official Lisa Page, with whom he was reportedly having an affair, in which Strzok called then-candidate Donald Trump's behavior "horrible" and "disgusting". But Jeffress, her lawyer, pushed back, arguing in a statement that Page needed "clarification of the scope of the Committee's interest in interviewing her and access to relevant documents" before she sat for an interview with the panels.

Strzok was there to publicly address Republican accusations that he sought to improperly affect the outcome of the 2016 United States election, and had a heated back-and-forth with Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

He also accused Republican congressmen of being a pawn of Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying that he "strongly believes that today's hearing is just another victory notch in Putin's belt and another milestone in our enemies' campaign to tear America apart".

Conservatives proceeded to cast one of those text messages as the smoking gun in its case against Strzok in particular, and the FBI investigation into Trump, in general: In response to a message from Page expressing horror at the thought of Trump's election, Strzok replied, "We'll stop it". Strzok worked on both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties to the Trump campaign, until he was removed from Mueller's team previous year.

Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte, who heads the House Judiciary Committee, threatened to hold Strzok in contempt at the end of the hearing if he did not answer Gowdy's question.

Strzok, as he previewed in his opening statement, said he had been advised by the FBI's lawyers that he was not to address specifics of what is still an ongoing investigation.

"We don't want to read text message after text message dripping with bias against one of the two presidential candidates".

"Mr. Strzok, you are under subpoena and are required to answer the question", said Rep. "That is why we're here and why this matter". Strzok, a seasoned counterintelligence agent, helped lead both investigations but has since been reassigned to human resources.

Democrats loudly objected to Goodlatte's attempts to force Strzok to answer Gowdy's first question about how many witnesses were interviewed in the opening days of Russian Federation probe.

Strzok's point was that just because someone holds a political belief doesn't mean that they are biased.

"Let me underscore: These are not allegations, these are admissions, " Cummings said.

He also flatly rejected the president's characterizations of Mueller's work and the threat of Russian election interference, saying, "This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax".

"This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump", Strzok said. Strzok: "No ... we'll stop it".

While reading one in which he used the f-word while talking about Trump, Strzok paused and asked how he should handle it, then finished. They are safely walled off from any individual's personal political views, he said. He was removed from the investigation in 2017 after those text messages with fellow FBI employee Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, were discovered.

Former FBI attorney Lisa Page is expected to appear for a closed-door interview before House Committees Friday.

Strzok is testifying publicly on Capitol Hill for the first time since the release of a Justice Department inspector general report that heavily criticized his comments.

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