After the recess, Eric Swalwell, Congressman from California questioned Strzok asked if he considered pleading the fifth today, to which Strzok responded that he hadn’t considered it as an option.
Strzok: “No, I’ve done nothing wrong. Let me rephrase that. I am sorry. I am sorry for these texts, and the way they’ve been used for the harm and hurt they’ve caused my family, for the perception of people in the public, and I am sorry and deeply regretful for that. But when it comes–that’s a personal acception to responsibility that I take, that I need and that I’m working to make right. But when it comes to official conduct, when it comes to any action which would violate a law or crime, absolutely, I’ve never done that and have no need to take the fifth.”
Swalwell then asked Strzok if he was the sole individual to close the Hillary Clinton investigation or to open the Russian investigation, to which Strzok answered no to both questions.
Swalwell pulled out several visuals, one of what appeared to be Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, and continued with his questioning of Strzok.
Swalwell: “On November 3rd, 2015 did you send an email to Michael Cohen and say that ‘Our boy can become president of the United States and we can engineer it. I will get Putin’s team to buy in on this,’ Did you send that email?”
While having another photo held up of Donald Trump Jr., Swalwell continued, “Did you set up a meeting on June 9th where the email setting up that meeting was sent to Donald Trump Jr.? Where Donald Trump Jr. was offered dirt on his father’s opponent? Did you set up that June 9th meeting at Trump Tower?”
Strzok: “Without stating whether or not that meeting happened, I did not set up a meeting.”
Swalwell: “Did you reply to the emails setting up that meeting when dirt was offered and said, ‘I love it’?”
Strzok: “I did not.”
Another picture was held up of Donald Trump, and Swalwell asked Strzok if he had written one of Donald Trump’s speeches.
Swalwell: “And in the summer of 2016 were you working as a speech writer?”
Swalwell: “So, would you have happened to have written the speech for Donald Trump that candidate in the summer of 2016? Where he told an audience, ‘Russia, if you’re listening and then went on to tell the Russians that if they hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails they’d be rewarded, Did you write that speech?”
Strzok: “I did not.”
Swalwell clearly decided to make his time memorable with plenty of visuals, and very little real context.
WATCH full hearing:
Congressman from North Carolina, Mark Meadows asked Strzok if he’d ever talked to anyone outside of the FBI about the Russian investigation at all. Strzok clarified that other than the U.S. Intelligence Agency, he had not spoken to anyone else about it, stressing certainly not the media.
Congressman Meadows asked Strzok about messages he sent to Lisa Page 5 days after Senator Harry Reid’s letter to Comey, that was not public at that time.
Meadows: “Are you aware that there was a meeting between Director Brennan and Senator Harry Reid where indeed he shared certain intelligence with Senator Reid on August the 25th of 2016. Are you aware of that?”
Strzok: “Not to my recollection, I am not.”
Meadows: “Ok well then, the text message between you and Ms. Page a few days after that on August 30th, where you said ‘Here it comes’ when Senator Reid sent a letter to Director Comey, what would you have been referring to then.”
Strzok: “My recollection to that, which is very imprecise, is that Senator Reid had been making a lot of comments. I don’t know if they were public comments, or comments to Director Comey..”
Meadows: “Well, they weren’t public at that time, they became public with the New York Times, but they weren’t public at that time. So, are you aware that in your email dated January 10th, where you acknowledge the fact that Harry Reid knew about the dossier prior to sending that letter, are you aware of that email…from you?”
Strzok: “I don’t know that I was talking about the Steele material in which you’re referring to as the ‘dossier’. I’d have to check my notes.”
Meadows: “Well, I need you to check your notes and report back, because we have evidence that would suggest that.”
Strzok: “The date on the server was what..August of..?”
Meadow: “August 25th was the briefing with Harry Reid by Director Brennan,-he sends a letter then to Director Comey, which we have acknowledgment of by Director Comey, and by you and Lisa Page in text messages that would suggest that you were aware of that, so the CIA Director briefing Harry Reid and the indication is that they talked about the dossier, and we get that indication from an email from you on January 10th.”
Strzok said he was not aware of the meeting on August 25th and did not know or have information on the Steele dossier before mid September, to his “recollection.”
Congressman Cedric Richmond from Virginia spent his time talking about DACA, and separating children from their parents at the border, rather than questioning Peter Strzok. Which was interesting, considering his 5 minutes began with Richmond saying his grandmother told him, “When you see a circus, don’t jump in the middle of it and expect people not to call you a clown.” He then moved to what else? Russian Collusion. Then he gave the remainder of his time to Peter Strzok to freely speak. Strzok passed on his offer.
Florida Congressman Dennis Ross backed up what Congresswoman Norton pointed out earlier– that anything that was on Strzok’s official phone (since it’s considered public property) was considered public information and should not be used for anything else other than federal activities.
Ross: “Do you believe in any way that your personal text that were done on federal property have in any way tarnished the reputation of the FBI?”
Stzrok :”Sir, I don’t think I’ve blamed anyone here today. I take responsibility for sending those text.”
Ross presses Strzok further,”Has this tarnished the reputation of the FBI?”
Strzok: “Yes sir.”
Ross: “It has hasn’t it?”
Strzok: “Yes sir.”
Ross continues by saying he understands how Americans have lost faith in the federal government.
Ross: “Having been there, having now been here, how do we reinstate that trust to the American people? How do we make sure this never happens again?”
Strzok: “Sir a couple of answers to several things you said. First, I don’t think the American people have lost faith and confidence in the FBI at all. What the FBI does day in, day out, you’re wrong sir. I know I’ve spoken to agents in 56 field offices and I know the work they do day in and day out and whatever is convenient to say here or on some news clip is absolutely not what exists. Second, sir, I would tell you yes, I wrote, and I don’t know where you’re saying I don’t have remorse or somehow I’m not sorry, I’ve said and I’ll tell you again sir, knowing that I said that….Sir, if I may respond to your question, I’m deeply regretful for those texts. I wrote them, and I know what is been done with them at the same time I will tell you, sir, the FBI allowed.. there’s an expectation that those texts are private. The bureau allows me or any FBI employee to text my priest, to text my doctor, in that policy there is a necessary expectation that those are not going to be made public. I had no idea that this was going to happen and darn if I knew, I never would have done it- for sure.
Mark Walker, Congressman from North Carolina, brought up the volume of texts–several hundred pages with over 50,000 texts that were all on his federal phone, not his personal phone. With over 100 text a day, while he’s supposed to be working.
There were 73+ texts sent from his federal phone on June 10th, the same day that the FBI finally made the deal with Hillary Clinton attorneys over the laptop. Walker asked, “Did you leave your desk to send these 73+ texts on that single day?” He continued that as second lead investigator, Strzok is supposed to be working and not sending text messages to Lisa Page, among other recipients all day on tax payers money.
Congressman Walker concluded by saying that he thought Strzok’s discrediting himself and the FBI was the number one reason why Mueller decided to take him off the case.
Jamie Raskin, Congressman from Maryland, asked Strzok a line of questions where he quoted several politicians who said very derogatory things about President Donald Trump in emails and text messages. He asked Strzok if he was part of a “deep state conspiracy” that Strzok, himself organized. Strzok replied, “No.”
Raskin continued going through all the different quotes that had been made, mostly by conservatives, only to ask him the same question again, “Were you part of a deep state GOP conspiracy that was engineered by you and your friends? Were any of these statements part of a conspiracy that you organized?” Again, Strzok replies, “No.”
“This hearing has been a circus and a kangaroo court run in banana republican fashion and I believe some of my colleagues have disgraced themselves today in their attack on the FBI and the justice system of America. How can we recover from the hole that has been dug here today?, asked Raskin.
“America is strong”, replied Strzok. “I am confident that the institutions and American people will endure and be great. I have full faith in the United States, with all the men and women and even in times of trial and tribulation every confidence that we will emerge as great as we’ve ever been.”
Congressman from Florida, Matt Gaetz asked Strzok what the difference was between Mueller firing him for his “appearance of bias” and him being removed for his actual bias.
Gaetz: ” Did Robert Mueller ever ask you if you were biased against Donald Trump?”
Strzok: “He did not.”
Gaetz: “So he didn’t ask you when he hired you?”
Gaetz asked Strzok several other questions regarding whether or not Mueller ever asked Strzok about the text messages and the context within.
Gaetz: “Did Bob Mueller ever ask you what you meant by an ‘insurance policy?
Strzok: “Director Mueller did not. Director Mueller did not ask me about any text message Congressman.”
Gaetz: “You got people working for Bob Mueller who have active connections to Hillary Clinton,” Gaetz said. After a lengthy list of these connections Gaetz tells Strzok that “it’s really interesting to me that when you were so damaging to the investigation that you had to go, that Bob Mueller, the person who brought in all these people that had connections to the Hillary Clinton campaign, did not ask you about a single text message. And I tend to believe Mr. Chairman, that it’s because he didn’t want to know the answer, and that there was bias, and that your perception of Bob Muller’s perception of you is totally unreliable-and I yield back.”
Mike Johnson, Congressman from Louisiana told Strzok that the bottom line with the texts is that they cannot be discerned from facts.
“With all due respect, we cannot separate the text from that question because the text were written during the investigations, while you were in charge of the investigations, while you’re the most responsible, important person in these investigations at many times, we cannot separate your personal views and bias from the facts as they develop. That’s our problem and at the end of the day, that’s what we’re all still very concerned about even after all these hours of hearings,” Johnson stated.
“We are all accountable for our actions”, said Congressman Steve Russell from Oklahoma. He then quoted the words of Christ from the book of Luke “You shall know a tree by its fruit. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Congresswoman from Georgia, Karen Handle, while questioning Stzrok said, “Your assertion that your statements do not constitute bias is, well, absurd.” Handle continued, “Truly ironic, did I hear you say earlier that you’re in a senior position for the HR division for the FBI? (Handle giggles) That’s very ironic.”
Handle asked Strzok,”Did you ever advise Mr. Mueller about your relationship with Ms. Page?”
Strzok: “I did not.”
Strzok: “It did not strike me as relevant.”
Handle: “You have a lot to learn about human resources. I mean, wow. It is absolutely relevant.”
Sheila Jackson Lee was asked at the end of the hearing if she had a statement, to which she responded by asking Strzok a question about General Flynn. Goodlatte quickly shot her question down and reminded her that this was not the time for questioning. Lee said she would leave it on the floor, but thought it “would be good to clarify it, because I’ve asked others.”
She didn’t skip a beat and continued,”But, let me finish my remarks. In the concluding comments, Mr. Strzok, again, I believe this hearing, in this long period of time showed no bias in the decisions regarding the final report on Hillary Clinton’s emails. She was vindicated. Nothing changes the Russian interference in our election of 2016. Unfortunately, no questions were asked by the Republicans about the Russian interference. In the GOP, in many instances would not let you, Mr. Strzok, answer the questions. Finally, the hearing did not give the American people, I think, the important answers that they needed. And that is how will we secure our elections in 2018. That unfortunately plays into Putin’s hands. It also did not respond or did not answer, ‘what do you do when White House officials have not gotten their own security clearance?’ And finally, let me be very clear. When our country is attacked, I want to make sure that the FBI and not the KGB shows up. We need to do a better job of answering the concerns of children that have been snatched away from their parents, the violation of voting rights, the need to end gun violence, and many other issues. But today, you stood the test of time, atleast. You’ve admitted fault and certainly admitted that you would have wanted to do things in a better way. But it cannot take away your service in the United States Military, your service in the FBI and your willingness to offer, if you will, your deference and concern about the continuation of the FBI and its service to this nation.”
Chairman Goodlatte closed the hearing out by noting those who disrupted the hearing today, essentially turning it into a circus.
“Many members on the other side of the aisle have attempted to denigrate this investigation and in particular this hearing today. One going so far as to calling it ‘stupid’. This investigation and hearing aren’t just about reviewing the 2016 election, however important that is. This is a much bigger matter. Our investigation and this hearing goes to a larger global and existential issue of the quality under the law. So, for my democratic colleagues to call this review ‘stupid’ denigrates the importance of our founding principles in the core of a system of justice. I’d venture to guess that most Americans don’t view equality under the law and fair and unbiased investigations as ‘stupid’. Mr. Strzok, this has been a lengthy hearing, so thank you for your time today. It has been extraordinary frustrating though in trying to get answers to many important questions. I understand that you have refused to answer many questions on advice of the FBI. You have also said that you cannot answer questions on advice of council, because it could disrupt the ongoing Mueller investigation. So, we are presented with a situation where you have not answered questions from Congress under the cover of the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller. Neither the FBI nor the Special Council is mentioned in the constitution. Congress is, and we have a constitutional right to have answers to the many questions that have been posed to you. While you have consistently referred to the FBI as the ‘ultimate arbiter’ who is preventing you from answering questions today, the FBI director reports to the deputy attorney general. The FBI is a component of the Department of Justice. So, at the end of the day, deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, who has oversight over the Federal Bureau of Investigation and over the Mueller investigation is where the buck stops. We now consider the Department on the line in addition to the FBI for failing to permit you to answer questions that don’t even go to the substance of any investigation, but have focused on your involvement in the process of those investigations. This is unacceptable. Congress has been blocked today from conducting its constitutional oversight duty and more importantly, the American people have not received answers on why our chief law enforcement agencies and agents and lawyers operating within them permitted improper bias to permeate through three of the most important investigations in our nation’s history. The constitution’s construct of congressional oversight over the executive branch has been severely undermined today. We will resist attempts to prevent us from getting to the facts. This is not over and you as well as future witnesses are on notice that fulsome answers are expected promptly. With that, this hearing is adjourned.”
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