Watch Peter Strzok's House Judiciary Testimony Live
Watch Peter Strzok's House Judiciary Testimony Live
FBI agent Peter Strzok arrives for a closed-door hearing on June 27 before the House Judiciary Committee
12 July, 2018, 22:12
A House Judiciary Committee hearing quickly spiraled into chaos on Thursday when FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok said he couldn't answer a question related to the Russian Federation investigation because the FBI's lawyers had instructed him not to, leading the committee's chairman, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to threaten to hold Strzok in contempt.
He said in his opening statement that his work has never been tainted by politics and the intense scrutiny he faces represents "just another victory notch in [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's belt". "Right?!" Page texted Strzok.
Strzok said he was directed by FBI's legal counsel not to answer questions about an ongoing investigation, but Goodlatte demanded that he answer Gowdy's question, prompting a lengthy delay before Strzok asked to speak to the FBI general counsel. The text and emails may have been discovered in May of 2017, but the bias existed and was manifest a year and a half before that.
"We were deeply troubled by text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations", the Justice Department's inspector general wrote in its June report.
Strzok, who has been at the bureau for more than 20 years and previously served in the U.S. Army, played critical roles in the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the bureau's then-secretive probe of ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign. It also reflects an effort to shift attention away from the content of Strzok's texts and onto what he says is the more pressing issue: the Russians' "grave attack" on American democracy and continuing efforts to divide the country.
"Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took", Strzok said.
At one point, Strzok said he didn't appreciate an assertion from Gowdy, who retorted, "I don't give a damn what you appreciate". "No he won't. We'll stop it", Strzok replied.
"I can assure you Mr. Chairman, at no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took".
However, when Justice Department officials saw texts he exchanged with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair, in which they disparaged Donald Trump, Mueller removed him from the investigation.
"I think it was embarrassing that the Democrats were trying to be cheerleaders for agent Strzok - trying to cover for him", Scalise said on Fox News's "The Daily Briefing". Bernie Sanders. He said there was "simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions".
Page told investigators that she and Strzok were having an affair, according to a Justice Department Inspector General's report about the Clinton email investigation, and that they used their work devices to hide that from their spouses.
He said that he had "expressed personal political opinions during an extraordinary presidential election" and that at times his "criticism was blunt", but that it was not limited to Trump.
Republicans have criticized the message and seizedon the exchange to argue that it demonstrates evidence of anti-Trump bias at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He appeared at a joint hearing before the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee for several hours.
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