Embattled FBI agent Strzok: Political bias did not influence my decisions

Embattled FBI agent Strzok: Political bias did not influence my decisions

FBI agent Peter Strzok is sworn in to before testifying before the House Judiciary Committee and Oversight and the Government Reform Committee on Thursday, (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian)

WASHINGTON – Embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok pushed back on Thursday against claims that his political preference affected decisions made in the Bureau’s investigation into potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

“In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind,” Strzok told a joint panel of the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Photo ©2018 Doug Christian/TMN)

Strzok and fellow agent Lisa Page exchanged text messages in which he said they would stop Donald Trump from being elected president, according to a Department of Justice inspector general report that was released last month.

“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right?” Page wrote to Sztrok on Aug. 8, 2016.

“No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok replied.

Other messages included profanity-laced comments about the president and his supporters.

The agents, who were dating at the time although both were married, were dismissed from Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigative team last year after it was discovered they had exchanged anti-Trump texts. Strzok was a lead investigator in the Clinton email probe.

Strzok privately testified before a joint Judiciary/Oversight committee panel for 11 hours two weeks ago.

Page was subpoenaed to appear before the committees for a closed-door deposition on Wednesday. She did not appear. Page has agreed to give private testimony on Friday, according to a CNN report.

Photo ©2018 Doug Christian/TMN

When Strzok declined to answer a question from Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) regarding the Bureau’s collusion investigation, a fight broke out among the panel.

“Mr. Strzok, you under subpoena and are required to answer the question,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) interjected. “Are you objecting to the question? If so, please state your objection.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, immediately provided cover for Strzok.

“I object, Mr. Chairman….He (Strzok) is still an employee of the FBI and the FBI counsel has instructed him not to answer the question.”

Goodlate said Nadler did not have standing to object.

But Nadler persisted.

“Point of order, Mr. Chairman.”

Photo ©2018 Doug Christian/TMN

Goodlatte refused to back down.

“Mr. Strzok, please be advised that you can either comply with the directive to answer the question or refuse to do so. That latter of which will place you at risk of a contempt citation and potential criminal liability.”

Nadler again objected.

“Point of order, Mr. Chairman.”

Nadler said Strzok could not legally be compelled to answer a question about an ongoing investigation.

Goodlatte said the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that American citizens are required to cooperate with congressional requests  and that not answering a question constitutes non-compliance.

The exchange continued for about 10 minutes with other members of the panel joining the fray before Gowdy resumed questioning Strzok.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), right, uses a cellphone to take a photo of protesters during the testimony of former FBI agent Peter Strzok on Thursday. (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian/TMN)
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