Republicans grill FBI agent who said he would 'stop' Trump

House Republicans are interviewing Peter Strzok, an FBI agent who worked on investigations into Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump's campaign, as GOP lawmakers step up efforts to highlight what they say is bias at the Justice Department.

The interview, with House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigators, is one of the most hotly anticipated testimonies in the political fight over the FBI’s handling of the twin investigations into both 2016 presidential candidates.

Strzok held a key position in both probes and, since his anti-Trump texts became public, Trump allies on Capitol Hill have been howling for him to testify. President Trump has tweeted that Strzok is at the center of a “dangerous” conspiracy against him.

Now, weeks after the release of a highly critical inspector general report damning Strzok for unprofessional conduct, conservative lawmakers will get their first crack at the man they see as the key to proving bias has irreparably tainted the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.

Strzok is appearing voluntarily — as he has for weeks offered to do — after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) tabled a subpoena he issued last week to compel a deposition.

Through a lawyer, Strzok has fiercely defended himself, denying that his views of Trump tainted his investigative objectivity.

“While Special Agent Strzok openly admitted that he believed that the Russia investigation was far more important to American national security than the Clinton email investigation, this conclusion is evidence of Special Agent Strzok’s lucidity, not his bias,” his lawyer, Aitan Goelman, said when the report was released.

Strzok was removed from Robert Mueller’s investigation after the inspector general alerted the special counsel to the existence of the text messages earlier this year, and although he is still technically an employee of the FBI, he was recently escorted from the bureau in what is believed to be a precursor to dismissal.

Even critics of the president acknowledge that Strzok’s conduct, laid out by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz in a 500-page report earlier this month, is deeply problematic.

The inspector general found that his texts with FBI lawyer Lisa Page suggested he “might be willing” to take official action to hurt Trump’s electoral prospects.

In perhaps the most explosive new revelation from the report, Strzok told Page “We’ll stop it,” after being asked, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

That text, the report said, was “indicative of a biased state of mind” — and suggested that Strzok may have intentionally slow-rolled the review of emails connected to the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discovered after the probe was closed, which were on a laptop belonging to former New York congressman Anthony Weiner (D).

Strzok, as the No. 2 official in the Clinton investigation, was one of several people who was made aware of the existence of the emails when they were initially uncovered.

But the so-called Midyear team — the investigative unit that had handled the Clinton investigation — did not move to review them until just days before the election, almost a month after FBI officials in New York found them.

Strzok told investigators at the time that he was prioritizing the investigation into Trump’s campaign’s ties to Russia.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.