Embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok faced off with House Republicans Thursday at a fiery and raucous hearing where he forcefully defended his actions in the Hillary Clinton email and Russian Federation investigations amid sharp attacks over the anti-Trump text messages he sent.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., criticized what they called the clear bias against Trump that Strzok and Page had demonstrated and they lectured Strzok about his refusal to answer questions based on instructions from the FBI's attorneys. "This decision is long overdue".
And yet some analysts couldn't help but notice a hint of irony in Republicans' argument that Strzok's personal views must have influenced his official duty, while they simultaneously conduct investigations into politicians they openly support or oppose.
In one text, Page asked Strzok if Trump was going to be president.
Strzok replied that he was not under subpoena, but testifying voluntarily - and that he could not answer questions "related to the ongoing investigations being undertaken by the special counsel's office".More news: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit exposes Juncker health problems
"If you can't control yourself", Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman charged Gowdy, "how do you expect this committee to control itself?"
In his opening statement, Strzok acknowledged that while his text message criticism was "blunt", it was not directed at one person or political party and included jabs not only at Trump but also at Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders.
He said the late-night, off-the-cuff text reflected his belief that Americans would not stomach such "horrible, disgusting behaviour" by the presidential candidate.
She wondered if it was time to remove the cameras from congressional hearings.
Strzok argued that Mueller did not remove him from his team because of bias, but because of the perception the texts created.More news: China trade surplus with U.S. hits historic high & timing couldn’t be worse
He defended himself forcefully and doubled down on some of his most controversial comments in the texts, which he exchanged with Federal Bureau of Investigation lawyer Lisa Page during the presidential campaign. He said the FBI's Trump investigation originated not out of personal animus but rather from concern that Russia was seeking to meddle in the election, including what he said were credible allegations of a Russian offer of assistance to a Trump campaign associate.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said the congressional focus on the "internal workings of the special counsel's investigation" distracts from more critical questions about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the need to protect future US elections from foreign influence.
Democrats, however, agreed with the sentiment expressed by their colleague, California congressman Ted Lieu: "Let me start by saying, this is a stupid and ridiculous hearing".
Strzok angrily responded, saying the "we'll stop it" text came in response to campaign occurrences such as Trump insulting the immigrant father of a fallen USA soldier.
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". Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the oversight panel, had aides hold up posters of everyone who has pleaded guilty in the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.More news: U.K. police find source of Novichok nerve agent in small bottle
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