FBI agent Peter Strzok defended himself and the entire FBI against the allegation that they were biased against any one candidate in the 2016 election in one of the most intense testimonies given in a congressional hearing.
House Judiciary Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) tore into Strzok for anti-Trump text messages he sent back and forth with colleague Lisa Page, probing whether they indicated bias on Strzok’s part. He also asked whether special counsel Bob Mueller took Strzok off the investigation due to said bias.
“My testimony, what you asked and what I responded to, was that he kicked me off because of my bias. I’m stating to you it is not my understanding he kicked me off because of any bias,” Strzok replied testily to Gowdy. “It was done based on the appearance. 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.”
“I don’t give a damn what you appreciate,” Gowdy sniped.
Given the opportunity to respond in full to Gowdy’s questioning after some back and forth about procedure, Strzok – clearly angered after being accused of bias due to his text messages – said the following:
Sir, I think it’s important when you look at those texts that you understand the context in which they were made, and the things that were going on across America. In terms of the texts that, ‘We will stop it.’ You need to understand that that was written late at night, off-the-cuff and it 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. It was in no way, unequivocally, any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process, for any candidate. So I take great offense and I take great disagreement to your assertion of what that was or wasn’t. As to the ‘100 million to one’ that was clearly a statement made in jest and using hyperbole, I of course recognize that millions of Americans were likely to vote for candidate Trump. I acknowledge that is absolutely their right, that is what makes our democracy such a vibrant process that it is. But to suggest somehow that we can parse down the words of shorthand textual conversations like they’re some contract for a car is simply not consistent with my or most people’s use of text messaging. I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, at no time, in any of these texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took. Furthermore, this isn’t just me sitting here telling you you don’t have to take my word for it. At every step, at every investigative decision, there are multiple layers of people above me, the assistant director, executive assistant director, deputy director and director of the FBI, and multiple layers of people below me, section chiefs, supervisors, unit chiefs, case agents and analysts, all of whom were involved in all of these decisions. They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me any more 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. It simply couldn’t happen. And the proposition that that is going on, that it 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.
Watch above, via MSNBC.
[image via screengrab]
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