FBI Agent Peter Strzok visited Congress to provide a ten-hour testimony to the House Judiciary and Oversight committees regarding his removal from one of the leading positions in the Trump/Russia FBI investigation, after strings of text messages with former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, were discovered with anti-Trump sentiments. And it was, to use the proper political terminology, batsh*t crazy. This must have been and example of the “deep partisan dysfunction'”former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe was referring to when she resigned from Congress after becoming disillusioned by the pervasive level of polarization that had hindered any substantial progress.
The testimony started out contentious, setting the tone for the rest of the day, with the Chairman threatening to throw Strzok in contempt after he was unable to answer a question FBI counsel had prohibited him from speaking on. Skip to 03:25 to see the aforementioned deep dysfunction, and resulting late night comedy it inspired, that have so consistently characterized the themes of life in 2018.
The whole way throughout, Strozk remained passionate and emphatic about the integrity of the FBI investigation and values, and how these were impervious to any individual, personal opinions.
“… Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took…. I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity. But the honest truth is that Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy. Most disturbingly, it has been wildly successful – sowing discord in our nation and shaking faith in our institutions. I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart. As someone who loves this country and cherishes its ideals, it is profoundly painful to watch and even worse to play a part in.”
Strozk went on to state, “At no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took. The suggestion that I’m 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 — it simply couldn’t happen.” Republicans were not content, with Rep. Trey Gowdy scolding Strozk at one point, saying “I don’t give a damn what you appreciate,” after the agent expressed disdain at a misleadingly phrased question.
The testimony came to a head several more times, even getting overwhelmingly personal, prompting one aghast Democrat lawmaker to shout at Rep. Gohmert if he “needed his medication.”
Whether Strzok’s testimony has absolved him of any blatant wrongdoing or not, the most revealing takeaway from yesterday probably has a lot more to do with Congress’ deeply partisan conduct.
The other woman involved with the text messages, Lisa Page, is set to testify behind closed doors today.
Watch other highlights from the wild hearing here.