Our Mission is to keep our audience with an interrupted stream of financial information from serious sources, with the objective to provide the tools and sufficient knowledge about investments in the financial markets. we inform you, for example, CNBC, The Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times Selected News, selected financial news and videos, the Fed, FDIC, SEC, FTC press releases and enforcement actions.
Peter Strzok hearing: FBI agent feuds with GOP critics
by Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian
fought bitterly Thursday with embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok, at a
congressional hearing that frequently devolved into shouting matches
about bias and testy exchanges about procedure between supporters of
President Trump and defenders of the agency investigating him.
mutual contempt felt between Republicans, Democrats, and the star
witness was palpable from the very first question put to Strzok, whose
conduct as the lead agent on FBI probes of Hillary Clinton and the Trump
campaign has been sharply criticized by internal Justice Department
The joint hearing before the
House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees was a
showcase of the wide partisan chasm that now exists regarding the FBI —
with Republicans repeatedly bashing the agency’s leadership as having
engaged in politically motivated investigations; and Democrats
denouncing what they described as an attack not just on the FBI, but
special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing probe into whether any
Trump associates conspired with Russia to interfere with the 2016
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of
the oversight committee, started the first fracas when he asked Strzok
how many individuals he interviewed in the first week of the Russia
probe in the summer of 2016.
“I will not, based
on direction of the FBI … answer that question, because it goes to
matters which are related to the ongoing investigations being undertaken
by the special counsel’s office,” Strzok replied.
that point, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary
Committee, interjected, threatening Strzok with a contempt citation if
he did not answer.
agent Peter Strzok arrives for a closed-door hearing on June 27, before
the House Judiciary Committee. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Strzok, you are under subpoena and are required to answer the
question,” Goodlatte said. Minutes earlier, Goodlatte had accused Strzok
of “turning justice on its head.”
Republicans berated Strzok over his work on the probes, Democrats
sought to defend him through a series of unsuccessful objections and
parliamentary maneuvers, leading to arguments among lawmakers about
Strzok while he sat listening at the witness table.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) described the FBI agent as an injured survivor.
I could give you a Purple Heart, I would. You deserve one,” Cohen said.
“It’s astonishing to me that you would be put on trial as you have
today.” Purple Heart medals are awarded to military personnel wounded in
Strzok, a deputy assistant director
at the FBI who oversaw counterintelligence cases, was removed from the
Trump probe by Mueller in July 2017. At that time, investigators for the
Justice Department inspector general discovered text messages between
him and then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page in which they repeatedly disparaged
Trump and expressed a strong desire he not win the election.
Strzok’s work at the FBI became the subject of intense political battles in Congress after The Washington Post reported in December that he
and Page, who had been involved in a romantic relationship, were under
investigation by the inspector general over their texts. Page left the
FBI earlier this year; Strzok is the focus of an internal investigation
that could lead to his firing, but he is still technically an employee
of the bureau.
The arguments took an ugly
personal turn when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) indirectly raised the
issue of Strzok’s extramarital affair with Page.
I see you sitting there with your little smirk, how many times did you
look so innocent-looking into your wife’s eyes?” Gohmert said.
and the witness then started yelling, trying to speak over each other
as the chairman sought to restore order in the room, as one Democrat
hollered: “You need your medication!”
commotion subsided, Strzok replied, “I have always told the truth. The
fact that you would accuse me otherwise… goes more to a discussion about
your character and what you stand for.”
denied his political opinions amounted to bias, and said that FBI
personnel are trained not to let their opinions influence their work.
is simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions,” he said,
calling Thursday’s hearing “just another victory notch in [Russian
President Vladimir] Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’
campaign to tear America apart,” calling it “profoundly painful to watch
and even worse to play a part in.”
one 2016 text exchange, Page wrote: “He’s not ever going to become
president, right? Right?!” — to which Strzok answered, “No. No he won’t.
We’ll stop it.”
Strzok said that comment did
not reflect any desire to influence an investigation. At the time, he
said, he was upset over how Trump had attacked the family of a war hero —
a reference to Khizr Khan, the father of a slain U.S. soldier, who
spoke at the Democratic National Convention.
text “was in response to a series of events that included
then-candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war
hero, and my presumption based on that horrible, disgusting behavior
that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that
behavior to be President of the United States,” he said.
At one point in the hearing, Strzok conceded that he “detested” Trump.
Some of the angriest exchanges at the hearing were between Strzok and Gowdy.
At one point, Strzok accused Gowdy of twisting his words, saying: “I don’t appreciate what was originally said being changed.”
shot back: “I don’t give a damn what you appreciate, agent Strzok, I
don’t appreciate an FBI agent with an unprecedented level of animus
working on two major investigations in 2016.”
insisted his superiors and colleagues “would not tolerate any improper
behavior in me anymore than I would tolerate it in them. That is who we
are as the FBI, and the suggestion that I, in some dark chamber
somewhere in the FBI, would somehow cast aside all of these procedures,
all of these safeguards, and somehow be able to do this is astounding to
me,” he said.
He warned lawmakers that attacks on the FBI’s credibility hurt the country.
proposition that that is going on and might occur anywhere in the FBI
deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness
of their mission, and it is deeply destructive,” Strzok said, prompting
cheers from Democrats in the hearing room.
500-page report issued last month, the Justice Department inspector
general found no evidence that investigative decisions were affected by
the political bias of Page, Strzok or others at the FBI, but issued a report that was nevertheless harshly critical of their conduct, saying the texts exhibited a willingness to take official action to prevent Trump from becoming president.
who served as the chief legal adviser to the FBI’s then-deputy
director, Andrew McCabe. and Strzok were both part of a small group of
senior FBI officials who handled both the Clinton and Trump probes.
Within the FBI, those officials were often referred to as the “skinny
group” because then-FBI Director James B. Comey and others sought to
keep a tight grip on details of those investigations.
supporters in Congress have accused Strzok and Page of steering the
Clinton probe away from criminal charges and pushing the FBI to
aggressively investigate Trump advisers through electronic surveillance
and confidential informants. They accuse FBI leadership of making
investigative decisions for political reasons and have long sought to
question Strzok and other FBI officials about how those cases were
Trump has repeatedly belittled Strzok
publicly. On Saturday, the president tweeted: “The Rigged Witch Hunt,
originally headed by FBI lover boy Peter S (for one year) & now, 13
Angry Democrats . . . It’s a Democrat Con Job!”
said the committees had reached an agreement to question Page behind
closed doors on Friday, following an angry back and forth with Page’s
lawyer Amy Jeffress over what she called “bullying tactics” by the