Texas lawmaker attacks Federal Bureau of Investigation agent over affair
13 July, 2018, 06:39 | Author: Orlando Hughes
At one point, Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California chimed in, saying, "This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing". The stakes will be high, and the spotlight's glare will be the brightest it has been so far.
Peter Strzok testified publicly for the first time since being removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team after the discovery of derogatory text messages he traded with an Federal Bureau of Investigation lawyer. Strzok's lawyer said he was escorted from the Federal Bureau of Investigation building last month as the disciplinary process proceeds.
An internal Federal Bureau of Investigation report released last month found no evidence of political bias in the FBI's decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton.
During his opening statement, House Oversight Committee ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland asserted that Republicans were trying to shut down a fruitful investigation.
Watson Coleman then praised Strzok and delineated several criticisms of President Donald Trump, claiming the Republican side of the committees has not mentioned those issues.
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.
On Thursday, Republicans disputed his contention that he wasn't biased and that his views didn't affect the investigation.
"Mr. Strzok, if I could give you a Purple Heart, I would, " Cohen said when he began his questioning. Chief among those skeptics was Rep. Louie Gohmert, the controversial Texas firebrand, who accused Strzok of lying to lawmakers.
"I can't help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife's eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page?".
He told Gohmert the fact that he would say that "shows more what you stand for" than anything else.
Strzok maintained that the text messages between him and Page were rooted in "deep patriotism" and "not indicative of bias".
"My presumption [was] based on that terrible, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States, " he said. Strzok replied: "No, he's not". "We'll stop it", he said.
Strzok said some of his messages featured normal conversational "hyperbole", which Gowdy said was "inappropriate" for someone who is supposed to be "dispassionately, neutrally investigating" the subject of those texts.
Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Peter Strzok says a text message saying "we'll stop" the election of Donald Trump was written in response to a series of events including Trump's "disgusting" insult of the family of a fallen American soldier.
"Every American, every single one, has a political belief", Strzok said, and the vast majority of those don't constitute bias.
There were more than 75 lawmakers present at some point during the hearing - almost a fifth of the House.
Republicans yelled at Strzok and pointed fingers at him, making it clear they did not believe him.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., took his five minutes to force Strzok to read some of his own texts - including ones that used vulgarities.
"Mr. Strzok, are you starting to understand why some folks out there don't believe a word you say?" said Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas.
When Strzok declined to answer some questions on the Russian Federation probe, Goodlatte suggested Republicans might recess the hearing and hold him in contempt. Democrats objected and Goodlatte eventually let the hearing proceed.
Democrats alternated between describing the hearing as an outrage and mocking it as a joke. He earlier had worked on an FBI investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information while she was secretary of state.
A joint House hearing to question FBI agent Peter Stzrok quickly devolved into chaos as Republicans demanded he answer questions about the Russian Federation investigation. Gohmert tried to shout over him and the committee chairman vainly tried to restore order. He said Strzok's texts were "the flawless foil" for Republicans.
"That's a disgrace", Cicilline said. "Because it's not about you".
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.
He also said - a few times - that it was more frustrating for him than it was for lawmakers, suggesting he feels like there is more information that could help him clear his name. "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 Federal Bureau of Investigation".
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Satellite data indicate maximum sustained winds of around 80 miles per hour with higher gusts, and some strengthening is forecast. These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions, forecasters warn.
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