Peter Strzok testified publicly for the first time since being removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team, telling lawmakers that texts he traded with an Federal Bureau of Investigation lawyer in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election reflected personal views that he never once acted on.
Her lawyer, Amy Jeffress, said they are working quickly to arrange a new time for Page to testify, noting that they were not able to obtain the proper paperwork from the Department of Justice before her scheduled testimony, nor would the panel provide them with the scope of the interview, as they are required to do. He said it was his personal view, written late at night and off-the-cuff, of "horrible, disgusting behavior" by the Republican presidential candidate. Some Democrats applauded after he finished speaking.
A House Judiciary Committee hearing quickly spiraled into chaos on Thursday when FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok said he couldn't answer a question related to the Russian Federation investigation because the FBI's lawyers had instructed him not to, leading the committee's chairman, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to threaten to hold Strzok in contempt. "Agent Strzok had Donald Trump impeached before he even started investigating him". "Agent Strzok may not see it, but the rest of the country does".
"Lisa Page has finally agreed to appear before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees for a transcribed interview tomorrow", Goodlatte said in a statement. Strzok said the disparaging comments were merely political commentary between colleagues during a remarkably heated election.
But Republicans lambasted the embattled FBI agent, accusing him of "textbook bias" in his handling of the Clinton and Trump investigations.
"But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind", Strzok said.
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"I can assure you Mr. Chairman, at no time in any of these texts did these personal beliefs ever enter the realm of any action I've taken".
Strzok, who helped lead investigations of Hillary Clinton's emails and ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, will testify publicly Thursday before Congress after previously testifying before lawmakers in a closed session.
The sharp tone of Strzok's statement sets the stage for a contentious hearing following hours of closed-door questioning last week.
The FBI agent also said that Republican attacks on him and Page aided Russian president Vladimir Putin's efforts to undermine American unity and corrupt democratic institutions.
Strzok declined to answer a question from Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, about interviews he conducted during the FBI's Russian Federation probe, saying the agency had directed him not to discuss ongoing investigations.
"We'll stop it", Strzok texted Page in August 2016 - apparently referring to the prospect of Trump being elected president, according to a June report by the inspector general. Yet the report strangely said it found no evidence of political bias in the FBI's decision not to pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. Her lawyer said Page had offered to voluntarily appear before the committees later this month but needed more clarification about what the lawmakers would be asking.