Peter Strzok Testifies Before House Committees

Cheryl Sanders
July 12, 2018

The hearing often descended into partisan bickering over points of parliamentary order and whether or not Strzok could be compelled to answer questions pertaining to ongoing FBI investigations.

"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.

"I don't appreciate being mischaracterized", Mr. Strzok said.

"In terms of the texts that 'we will stop it, ' you need to understand that was written late at night, off-the-cuff, and it was in response to a series of events that included then-candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero, and my presumption, based on that frightful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be President of the United States", Strzok said.

And many Democrats say actions taken by law enforcement during the campaign season - including announcing a reopening of the investigation into Clinton just days before the election - actually wound up harming the Democratic candidate and aiding the Republican candidate, Trump.

It is point that has been largely brushed aside in Trump-friendly media circles, with a text Strzok sent to Page in May 2017 also receiving comparatively little scrutiny.

"My presumption [was] based on that frightful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States", Strzok explained.

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

"What I meant by that was, living in northern Virginia, having traveled the 100, 150 miles south within the same state, I was struck by the extraordinary difference in the expression of political opinion and belief amongst the community there and from where I lived", Strzok stated.

Strzok sought to explain his texts, including when he told Page "we'll stop" Trump, which he said was written in response to Trump's attacks on a Gold Star family during the 2016 campaign. In August 2016, Strzok responded to a message from then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was romantically involved, about Trump's chance of being elected president.

Strzok had told Gowdy he was unable to answer a question related to the Russian Federation probe, saying he had been instructed not to comment on matters related to an ongoing investigation.

Gowdy was repeatedly interrupted through the rest of his questions, while he and Strzok got into a heated exchange.

Judiciary ranking member Jerrold Nadler of NY took sharp exception to Goodlatte's threat.

Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, led the combined session with House Oversight. Gowdy said, referring to one of the agents who showed up at Hillary Clinton's election party.

In his opening remarks, Strzok defended Mueller's work and emphasized the threat of Russian election interference, clearly referencing the president in saying, "This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax".

Strzok volunteered to testify before Congress after the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general, Michael Horowitz, released a report last month that revealed how senior Federal Bureau of Investigation officials repeatedly expressed their support for Clinton and denigrated Trump during the election.

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