As FBI Agent Testifies, 'Absolute Chaos' Ensues
The FBI agent who got caught up in a texting scandal over his views about President Trump testified on Capitol Hill on Thursday, and it was volatile from the very start.
"Heated and sometimes chaotic" is how the Washington Post describes it, and the AP had the same vibe with "bitterly contentious and occasionally chaotic." Peter Strzok testified that he regretted sending those anti-Trump texts, including one infamous one in which he says "we'll stop" Trump's election, but emphatically insisted that his personal views in no way affected his work on two investigations in 2016 of Hillary Clinton and Trump.
Republicans, however, weren't buying it. Details:
- Opening statement: “Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” Strzok said in his opening statement.
“There is simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions.” He also said the hearing by the House judiciary and oversight committees "is just another victory notch in (Vladimir) Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart." Read the full text via Politico.
- Versus Gowdy: GOP Rep.
Trey Gowdy went after Strzok quickly. "Agent Strzok had Donald Trump impeached before he even started investigating him," he said. "That is bias. Agent Strzok may not see it but the rest of the country does, and it is not what we want, expect or deserve from any law enforcement officer much less the FBI." At one point, Strzok accused Gowdy of twisting his words and said he didn't appreciate it.
“I don’t give a damn what you appreciate," responded Gowdy. "I don’t appreciate an FBI agent with an unprecedented level of animus working on two major investigations in 2016.”
- Contempt threat: When Strzok said he wouldn't answer questions about the FBI investigations, GOP Rep.
Bob Goodlatte threatened to hold him in contempt. Democrat Eric Swalwell then countered about holding Steve Bannon in contempt for refusing to answer questions at an earlier hearing, reports Fox News.
In the end, nobody was held in contempt. Throughout the hearing, however, "Democrats tried to run interference for Mr. Strzok, using parliamentary points of order and other tactics to protect him from Republican prying," per the New York Times.
- Video: Mediaite has a clip of the "absolute chaos."
- Notorious text: "I don't recall writing that text," Strzok said of the one in which he wrote "we'll stop" Trump's election, reports Axios.
"What I can tell you is that text in no way suggested that I or the FBI would take any action to influence the candidacy of candidate Trump.” Strzok also said the text came after Trump's criticism of the family of a US soldier in Iraq. “You need to understand that was written late at night, off-the-cuff," he said, per the Wall Street Journal.
“My presumption, based on that horrible, disgusting behavior, [was] that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States.”
- Lisa Page: Strzok is under internal investigation by the FBI and is on what amounts to administrative leave.
The FBI lawyer with whom he shared anti-Trump texts, Lisa Page, left the agency. She will meet behind closed doors Friday and Monday with members of Congress, reports CNN.
Trump tweeted about her on Wednesday. "What can she possibly say about her statements and lies," he wrote.
This article originally appeared on Newser: As FBI Agent Testifies, 'Absolute Chaos' Ensues