Strzok hearing chaos: House chair threatens to hold Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in contempt

Strzok hearing chaos: House chair threatens to hold Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in contempt

As soon as the questions got underway, the hearing devolved into a partisan verbal brawl as House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte struggled to maintain control of the crowded hearing room, which contained more than 70 members between the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees. "If you want to represent what you said accurately, I'm happy to answer that question, but I don't appreciate what was originally said being changed".

Strzok also expressed regret for the messages he and Page exchanged, but emphasized that his personal opinions did not impact any of his official actions.

Strzok played important roles in both the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server while she was secretary of state and the investigation of Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential race now run by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

At one point, Strzok said he didn't appreciate an assertion from Gowdy, who retorted, "I don't give a damn what you appreciate".

Strzok declined to answer a question from Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, about interviews he conducted during the FBI's Russian Federation probe, saying the agency had directed him not to discuss ongoing investigations.

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

One message that has received particular attention, and is likely to be discussed at the hearing, is an August 8, 2016 text in which Strzok, discussing with Page the prospect of a Trump win, says, "No". "But to suggest somehow we can parse down the words of shorthand, text actual conversations like they're some contract for a auto is simply not consistent with my or most people's use of text messaging". AP Photo/Evan Vucci On Thursday, Goodlatte said Strzok and others within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DOJ "turned [the justice system] on its head, and that's why we're here today".


He also accused Republican congressmen of being a pawn of Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying that he "strongly believes that today's hearing is just another victory notch in Putin's belt and another milestone in our enemies' campaign to tear America apart". "But", he said, "the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind".

"Not at all", a defiant Strzok said.

For a brief moment, lawmakers floated the idea of Strzok having some company when he appears Thursday - as the committee offered Page a spot to testify at Thursday's hearing. Strzok replied: "No, he's not".

The contentious hearing follows hours of closed-door questioning last week.

The Justice Department's inspector general has criticized Strzok and Page for creating the appearance of impropriety through the texts. Yet the report strangely said it found no evidence of political bias in the FBI's decision not to pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton.

Page had been subpoenaed to appear on Capitol Hill on Thursday, but did not comply with the order because Congress hadn't given her "sufficient time to prepare".

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