Angry words exchanged in congressional hearing on FBI investigation

Nato Jens Stoltenberg Donald Trump

Strzok helped lead the FBI's early investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race and Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

"In the majority's view, we do not have time to conduct oversight on nearly any national security issue - but we have hours on end to discuss Mr. Strzok's extramarital affair", Nadler said.

Republican members of the committee were expected to grill Strzok for hours as they argue that the text messages with Lisa Page coloured the outcome of the Clinton email investigation and undercut the FBI's ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.

Page served as the deputy counsel to then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and worked briefly for the Mueller team, but was taken off the special counsel's staff when the text messages were discovered.

Strzok said on Thursday that the "we" in the text referred to the American people because he believed Trump would not win the election after criticizing families whose relatives had been killed while serving in the USA military. "We expect them to agree to another date so that Lisa can appear before the Committees in the near future".

At one point, Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, invoked Strzok's personal life by alluding to the fact the texts were exchanged while he and Page were in a relationship. He told Gohmert the fact that he would say that "shows more what you stand for" than anything else.

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

In his most direct defense of the controversial texts, Strzok said he had written them "off-the-cuff" and that it was important to view them in the context of the heated election in 2016, during which Trump engaged in numerous outrageous, racially-charged feuds - including with the family of Muslim U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

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

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, threatened Strzok with contempt, claiming he was under subpoena.

One of the recent hobgoblins of the right is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had (has?) an explicit anti-Trump bias, and that this has corrupted them ideologically and led to partisan efforts to undermine the president.

But Republicans eager to undermine Mueller's investigation berated Strzok, citing the texts as evidence of partisan bias within law enforcement.

"This is the first time I've seen Congress as frustrated with Congress as we are!"

Goodlatte said he was holding open the prospect of calling Strzok back again because he was unsatisfied with the lack of answers to some questions.

"I urge our chairmen to change course and to keep their promises to protect the integrity of the special counsel's investigation", Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in his opening statement Thursday.

"This information had the potential to derail and quite possibly defeat Mr. Trump, but the thought of expressing that, or exposing that information never crossed my mind", Efe quoted Mr Strzok as telling to lawmakers during a congressional hearing.

The ICIG has not publicly disclosed the findings Gohmert described in the meeting between Rucker and Strzok, but the congressman said the watchdog can document them.

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