GOP reps threaten maligned Federal Bureau of Investigation agent with contempt in House hearing

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departs after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill in June 2017

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departs after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill in June 2017

The President and his allies have cited the texts between Strzok and former Federal Bureau of Investigation agaent Lisa Page as evidence that Mueller's probe is biased against the President, and Trump tweeted about Strzok multiple times in the leadup to Thursday's hearing.

Thursday's hearing, which was the first public appearance Strzok has made since he became a central figure in the Russian Federation investigation, underscored the deep tensions on Capitol Hill over the FBI's investigations connected to the 2016 election.

"In terms of the texts that 'we will stop it, ' you need to understand 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 awful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be President of the United States", Strzok said.

Mueller reassigned Strzok after the Justice Department discovered highly political text messages that he sent Page during the 2016 election cycle.

He also accused Republican congressmen of being a pawn of Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying that he "strongly believes that today's hearing is just another victory notch in Putin's belt and another milestone in our enemies' campaign to tear America apart".

At one point, when he was finally allowed to give a complete answer to a question, Strzok somewhat angrily explained why not only didn't he do anything to unfairly twist the investigation into Russian meddling, he couldn't have even if he wanted to.

"I don't appreciate what was originally said being changed", Strzok said, accusing Gowdy of misrepresenting his earlier testimony.

"The Judiciary Committee intends to initiate contempt proceedings on Friday, July 13, 2018, at 10:30 a.m.", Goodlatte and Gowdy wrote in their letter to Amy Jeffress, who is representing Page.

Strzok testified before the House in a closed-door hearing in June, where Republicans railed against his credibility in claiming that his texts with Page were not evidence that he meant to block Trump from the presidency, as his critics have said an August 2016 message suggests. House lawmakers subpoenaed her to appear for a private interview and warned her that they would begin the process of holding her in contempt if she does not show this week.

"My presumption, based on that frightful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be President of the United States", Strzok said.

But that's unlikely to be the focus of Thursday's hearing.

Strzok is testifying publicly on Capitol Hill for the first time since the release of a Justice Department inspector general report that heavily criticized his comments. "Together with her lover, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, she worked on the Rigged Witch Hunt, perhaps the most tainted and corrupt case EVER!"

But Goodlatte pushed back at the top of the hearing, defending his committee's investigation.

"As House Judiciary Republicans spend half the day or longer publicly flogging Peter Strzok", wrote Wheeler, "know that all that flogging can not change the fact that key evidence in Mueller's possession, evidence which I suspect implicates the president directly, has absolutely no tie to Peter Strzok at all".

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