Shouting, Insults As FBI Agent Faces Angry Republicans

FBI agent gets applause in contentious hearing after forceful defense of agency

Greg Nash

The official took part in the investigation regarding Hillary Clinton " s use of a private email server for official communications during her tenure as US Secretary of State and was involved in the Russian Federation probe, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, although he was taken off the case after his text exchange was revealed.

Gohmert said he was incensed at Strzok and thought he was knowingly lying to lawmakers, which in turn steered his questioning of Strzok toward his personal life.

Republican members of the House judiciary and oversight committees grilled Strzok as they argued that text messages he exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page colored the outcome of the Clinton investigation and undercut the ongoing Russian Federation probe.

Strzok testified before the House in a closed-door hearing in June, where Republicans railed against his credibility in claiming that his texts with Page were not evidence that he meant to block Trump from the presidency, as his critics have said an August 2016 message suggests.

In an exchange with Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of SC, chair of the House Oversight Committee, Strzok defended his "we'll stop" Trump text.

Page told investigators that she and Strzok were having an affair, according to a Justice Department Inspector General's report about the Clinton email investigation, and that they used their work devices to hide that from their spouses.

"Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy", Peter Strzok told lawmakers in his prepared opening statement.

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

Strzok also said he had never contemplated leaking damaging information he knew about the Trump campaign.

Strzok has met with members of the House Judiciary Committee privately, but his hearing scheduled for Thursday is open.

Republican Darrell Issa made Strzok read some of his texts aloud, including some with profane language.

Trump - who mocks Page and Strzok as the "FBI lovers" - blasted Page's decision not to appear Thursday in a tweet, lamenting the "corruption on the other side" and again calling out Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do something about it. Last year, he was reassigned from Mueller's team after the compromising texts emerged.

"This is about promoting a narrative, you're a prop", said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

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".

Gowdy pressed Strzok on the texts during the back-and-forth, at one point telling the FBI agent that it's "no wonder Bob Mueller kicked you off the investigation".

Strzok tried to respond, but Gohmert cut him off, insisting that he was not allowed to answer due to hearing rules that the witness could only respond if a representative asked a direct question. The texts were discovered during the Justice Department inspector general's probe of the Clinton email investigation.

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". Strzok's lawyer has said he was escorted from the Federal Bureau of Investigation building as the disciplinary process winds its way through the system.

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