GOP chairman calls out Democrats in opening statement of Strzok hearing

FBI agent Peter Strzok arrives for a closed-door hearing on June 27 before the House Judiciary Committee

Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation after the Justice Department's inspector general began investigating whether he had sent text messages on a work phone criticizing then-candidate Trump to fellow FBI agent Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair.

The longtime FBI agent helped lead both the Trump campaign and Clinton email investigations at various points in 2016 and was later part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's probe into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation. CNN host Wolf Blitzer called them "damning", while political director David Chalian said to suggest these texts were not indicative of bias is "just flat wrong on its face". (The investigation was handed over to special counsel Robert Mueller in mid-2017.) Republicans quickly objected and threatened to hold Strzok in contempt. Democrats noted that it was unusual that Strzok be asked to disclose such details in a public setting.

The hearing exposed clear partisan divides in the House judiciary and oversight committees, as Democrats accused Republicans of trying to divert attention from Trump's ties to Russian Federation through an excessive focus on Strzok. "Agent Strzok had Donald Trump impeached before he even started investigating him. It is not a hoax". Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) for their role in what shaped up to be a show trial of the FBI agent accused of protecting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and attempting to influence an FBI investigation of President Donald Trump's election campaign. The committees ultimately voted to table the motion at the end of hearing.

Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen found himself in hot-water Thursday among America's courageous service men and women; bizarrely saying anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok deserves a Purple Heart over his escalating scandal.

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.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter Strzok got into a heated exchange with Rep. Louie Gohmert during his testimony on Capitol Hill. Gowdy said, interrupting Strzok. "Agent Strzok may not see it, but the rest of the country does".

Congress' remedy, if it wants Strzok to answer the question, is to persuade the Justice Department that it's entitled to an answer.

Democrats loudly objected to Goodlatte's attempts to force Strzok to answer Gowdy's first question about how many witnesses were interviewed in the opening days of Russian Federation probe.

Strzok said he didn't have to answer the question because, despite being subpoenaed by the committee, he had previously said he would speak voluntarily.

"We have indulged this harassment [for] nine minutes", Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a member of the House Oversight Committee, interjected at one point during Gowdy's questioning.

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 Sen.

"Mr. Gowdy, my understanding of why I was kicked off was that based on an understanding of those texts, and the perception that they might create-" Strzok responded.

He said in his opening statement that his work has never been tainted by politics and the intense scrutiny he faces represents "just another victory notch in [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's belt". "The fact that you would accuse me otherwise, the fact that you would question whether or not that was the sort of look I would engage with in a family member who I have acknowledged hurting, goes more to a discussion about your character and what you stand for and what is going inside you".

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