‘FBI lover’ agent: Attacks on Federal Bureau of Investigation a ‘victory’ for President Putin

13 July, 2018, 03:58 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departs after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill in June 2017

After the opening statements, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., lodged his first question: How many people did Strok interview during the first eight days of the FBI's Russian Federation investigation, between July 31 and August 8, 2016?

Slender, bald-spotted, defiant, and at times seeming to be enjoying himself in the crosshairs of posturing Republicans, mewling Democrats and perspiring photographers squatting at his feet, the FBI's former deputy assistant director of counter-intelligence insisted that he had been texting as a private citizen about then-candidate Trump's "horrible, disgusting behaviour", and not as the lead investigator into both Putinite interference in the 2016 presidential election and Clinton's private email server.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) ordered Strzok to answer Gowdy's question.

In Thursday's hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, Republicans hope to further undermine the credibility of the investigation and head off any potential effort to impeach Trump.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., indicated earlier Wednesday that he would support Goodlatte's decision.

Mr. Strzok again said his use of the word "impeachment" does not mean he had already decided the outcome of the Russian Federation investigation.

In one particularly testy exchange, Trey Gowdy of SC questioned Mr Strzok about messages in which he said "we'll stop" Mr Trump's election and that Democrat Hillary Clinton should win 100m votes to zero. But you have to ask, and you have to keep asking: What do Republicans think the Federal Bureau of Investigation actually did to effectuate this anti-Trump conspiracy they say existed to deny him the presidency?

Democrats immediately challenged Goodlatte, accusing him of treating Strzok unfairly and seeking unsuccessfully to adjourn the hearing.

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The DOJ IG report, however, concluded it could not find evidence of "political bias" toward Trump.

The embattled FBI agent who oversaw the opening of the Russian Federation investigation mounted an aggressive personal defence on Thursday, rejecting accusations that he let his private political views bias his official actions and labelling Republican preoccupation with him "another victory notch in Putin's belt".

That set up perhaps the most pivotal moment of the ongoing hearing, as Mr Strzok attempted to defend his, and the FBI's, integrity and explained that the texts in questions came after Mr Trump insulted the Muslim parents of a slain USA soldier. Strzok says he never allowed personal opinions to taint his work.

Strzok is testifying publicly on Capitol Hill for the first time since the release of a Justice Department inspector general report that heavily criticized his comments.

Trump and his allies have suggested the texts are proof of a so-called deep state conspiracy against him, and that the Mueller probe is a politically motivated "witch hunt".

Strzok said he was directed by FBI's legal counsel not to answer questions about an ongoing investigation, but Goodlatte demanded that he answer Gowdy's question, prompting a lengthy delay before Strzok asked to speak to the FBI general counsel. "I can't tell the good people of my state that I endorse a person who acts like that.' Was that you, Mr. Strzok?" Strzok said his remarks gave him "a lot of concern".

The sharp tone of Strzok's statement set the stage for a contentious hearing following hours of closed-door questioning last week.

Officials said Friday the committees had reached an agreement to question her behind closed doors on Friday, following an angry back and forth with Page's lawyer Amy Jeffress over what she called "bullying tactics" by the lawmakers.

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