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Wild scenes at Russia-probe hearing as Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and Republicans clash

14 July 2018

Strzok was testifying before a joint hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, where he defended himself against claims he allowed his personal biases to affect his investigation into alleged ties between President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian Federation.

Strzok struck a combative tone throughout the hearing, telling congressmen, "Today's hearing is just another victory notch in Putin's belt and another milestone in our enemies' campaign to tear America apart".

This is because Strzok had participated in both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the special counsel's probe into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian Federation - but was removed from the latter last summer, after an internal investigation discovered that he had expressed a low opinion of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race in text messages with his colleague Lisa Page. An inspector general report last month blamed Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page for creating an appearance of impropriety through their texts but found that the outcome of the Clinton investigation wasn't tainted by bias.

"They're treating us with much more respect right now than they did in the past", Trump told reporters after a summit of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders in Brussels.

"Sir, that's an expression of speech".

Horowitz, however, concluded that the political views of those agents did not affect the conclusions of the Clinton investigation. Multiple GOP lawmakers, including Goodlatte and Gowdy, pointed out that Page has known for more than six months that the committees wanted to interview her; they also argued that she had all the information she needed for an unclassified interview far earlier in the day Tuesday than her lawyer claimed.

The controversial texts first came to light in December, when it was revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller dismissed Strzok from his team the previous summer upon learning of the messages. "It was the existence of your bias that got you kicked off", Gowdy said. I do not have bias.

"If you were kicked off when he read the texts, shouldn't you have been kicked off when you wrote them?"

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Republicans have cited Page's and Strzok's messages as evidence about what they call bias inside federal law enforcement and that conspirators launched the Russian Federation investigation out of partisan animus. "Agent Strzok may not see it, but the rest of the country does".

"We have indulged this harassment [for] nine minutes", Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a member of the House Oversight Committee, interjected at one point during Gowdy's questioning. Perception - you're saying it was the perception!

"President Trump is being investigated by people who possess pathological hatred for him", Giuliani said.

Goodlatte told Strzok he could answer, though Gohmert was visibly displeased.

"And potential criminal liability - do you understand that?"

Democratic Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee said he would give Strzok a Purple Heart if he could. "I think not", Goodlatte said. Strzok's lawyer has said he was escorted from the Federal Bureau of Investigation building last month as the disciplinary process winds its way through the system.

"I don't appreciate having an FBI agent with an unprecedented level of animus working on two major investigations during 2016", Gowdy said. He told Gohmert the fact that he would say that "shows more what you stand for" than anything else.

The hearing dissolved into chaos after Gohmert asked, "How many times did you look so innocently into your wife's eye and lie to her about Lisa Page?".

Wild scenes at Russia-probe hearing as Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and Republicans clash