FBI official Peter Strzok testified before the House Judiciary Committee in an open hearing on Thursday.
Republican lawmakers are investigating perceived bias within the FBI during the 2016 election.
Strzok exchanged thousands of text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page expressing support for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and denigrating President Donald Trump and his backers.
An internal investigation found that while Strzok’s and other FBI officials’ messages were troubling, they did not have any impact on the FBI’s findings in the Clinton email probe or the Russia investigation.
Republicans slammed Strzok on Thursday, while Democrats pointed out that his actions did not affect the final outcome of the Clinton investigation.
Strzok said the hearing was “another victory notch in [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] belt.”
Republican lawmakers tore into former FBI deputy assistant director Peter Strzok on Thursday.
He was testifying before the House Judiciary Committee as part of the panel’s inquiry into the FBI’s handling of two investigations into the 2016 presidential nominees.
One investigation focuses on Russia’s interference in the election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow. The other focused on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Strzok has been a lightning rod in the political sphere over the last several months, particularly since it emerged that he and FBI lawyer Lisa Page exchanged thousands of text messages during the election expressing support for Clinton and denigrating Trump.
Strzok and Page briefly faded from the spotlight until the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General released a report in June about its internal investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton investigation.
While the report found that the FBI did not let political bias affect its findings in the Clinton probe, inspector general Michael Horowitz also pointed out that it was troubling that senior FBI officials displayed their preference for Clinton over Trump so clearly during a politically sensitive time.
Following the report’s release, Strzok volunteered to appear before Congress, but House Judiciary Committee Chair Robert Goodlatte subpoenaed him. Strzok’s lawyer slammed the move as politically motivated and unnecessary, pointing out that his client had stepped up and offered to be interviewed.
The committee scheduled Thursday’s hearing after Strzok called for a public hearing in the interest of transparency.
A hearing full of fireworks
On Thursday, Goodlatte said Strzok and others within the FBI and DOJ “turned [the justice system] on its head, and that’s why we’re here today.”
House Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy, meanwhile, drew attention to specific remarks Strzok had made, including one in which he told Page “we’ll stop” Trump from getting elected, and said it was evidence that Strzok’s actions were politically biased.
Strzok hit back at GOP broadsides against him in a fiery opening statement as well.
“I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart,” Strzok said. “As someone who loves this country and cherishes its ideals, it is profoundly …read more
Source:: Business Insider