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

Larry Hoffman
July 13, 2018

"The chairman IS being proper!"

Goodlatte, who was chairing the joint hearing, brought up Strzok's text messages in reference to what he thought about Trump supporters, asking "what does Trump support smell like?" and also asked if he thought the president's base was made up of "hillbillies".

After the commotion died down, Gohmert used the remainder of his time to ask Strzok if he had spoken to Clinton more than once and to remark, incredulously, "So after throwing away what you have, with all the bias you have, you've never even gotten a thank you".

"My presumption, based on that awful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be President of the United States", Strzok said. "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", he said in an opening statement. "So, I take great offense, and I take great disagreement to your assertion of what that was or wasn't".

The response was met with some applause in the committee room.

At one point, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) asked Strzok how many people he had interviewed for the Russian Federation probe between July 31 and August 8, 2016. They argue that it has been selectively leaked and described to impugn him.

"What it demonstrates that I was looking at one potential outcome while simultaneously looking at the opposite outcome that there was no criminal activity whatsoever", he said.

"I understand his point is, 'Well, that bias didn't infiltrate into my work, into my conduct in the professional capacity, ' but you can understand why, when you look at the language of those texts, that it's very easy to point to a bias that this F.B.I. agent was expressing", Chalian continued. "Otherwise we intend to release the transcript". Gohmert refused, and got into a heated spat with Rep. David Cicilline, who called his claims "a disgrace".

It's worth noting that Goodlatte's justification - that the committee's investigation is ongoing - was the same one Strzok offered for not answering questions about the special counsel's Russian Federation probe.

'At no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took, ' Strzok said.

Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston said Gowdy was "assuming" Strzok's position on an issue. Then Issa asked him to read it again.

Democrats shouted at Gowdy and Goodlatte to give Strzok the opportunity to answer Gowdy's questions about his conduct, and he said in an impassioned address that he took "great offense" at the idea that his infamous text that "we'll stop" Trump from winning was proof of Federal Bureau of Investigation bias.

"OK, sir. Sure, " Strzok shot back snidely.

"Counsel of the FBI has directed me not to answer any questions about the ongoing investigations".

Gowdy responded by calling on Watson Coleman to question Strzok. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., went the furthest.

Cohen addressed Strzok directly during his fiery Congressional testimony Thursday, saying "If I could give you a Purple Heart I would".

The Justice Department's inspector general has criticized Strzok and Page for creating the appearance of impropriety through the texts. It is generally agreed that his text messages were problematic, regardless of if you think this reflects corruption and bias in all law enforcement or the Mueller probe.

Republicans have cited Page's and Strzok's messages as evidence about what they call bias inside federal law enforcement and that conspirators launched the Russian Federation investigation out of partisan animus. Gowdy recently asserted that Mueller should "finish it the hell up".

"I don't recall writing that text", Strzok added later, with Gowdy talking over him.

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