Strzok Hearing Anarchy…Rebellion On The Floor…Darrell Issa Returns (PART 2)
The Strzok hearing resumed after a break, and the line of questioning continued, immediately getting into the specific texts that were sent between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
Strzok was asked by Republican Congressman Darrell Issa from California, to read texts out loud that were sent from his government issued phone to Lisa Page. Strzok began reading texts from March 2016 that moved into August 2016 which included, “OMG! He’s an idiot”, “Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE.”, ‘Hi how was Trump other than a douche. Melania?”, “Trump is a disaster. I have no idea how destabilizing his presidency would be.”
Issa then specifically asks him to read a text from August 6th, 2016, to which Strzok responds, “I don’t believe I wrote this text, sir.” Issa replies, “Ok, it’s been attributed to you, so we’ll go on to the next.”
Strzok picks up again with a text exchange from August 8th, 2016 between Strzok and Page, where Page asks Strzok, “Not ever going to become president, right? Right?” Strzok reads his response out loud, “No, no he’s not. We’ll stop it.” Issa asks Strzok to repeat it again, which he does.
Strzok continues to read messages asked by Issa:
August 15, 2016: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40…”
October 20th, 2016 “I can’t pull away…What the..and I defer to the chairman.., (chairman says to use one letter for the word)..What the F happened to our country Lis?”
When Issa asks him to read the text again “that way”, Strzok immediately gets defensive and says, “I..sir, did you not, was that not intelligible? You just want to hear it, for me to repeat it?
Strzok, “Ok sir. Sure, I’m happy to indulge you.” Then he rereads the text message again. “I can’t pull away. What the F happened to our country Lis?”
Issa takes a moment then asks a rhetorical question of Strzok, “Why in the world do you believe that this committee should not ask for the record of similar text from your private account to find out what else you might have said about ‘insurance policies’, or about the president of the United States, or the investigation? That is a rhetorical question. You need not answer, and I yield back.”
Strzok asks the chairman to answer the question, Goodlatte responds that even though it was rhetorical, he would allow it to be answered, briefly.
Strzok: “Congressman, what I think is critical..and I’m glad you brought up a lot of these, because I would like to make up the point that I did earlier…”
Issa: “I didn’t bring them up, I just asked you to read your own words.”
Strzok: “I appreciate it, sir..if I…if I may, what is important is that these texts represent personal beliefs just like those that you’d find on my personal phone. What these texts do not represent is any act, any suggestion of an act, any consideration that we need to do this..or not do this-and furthermore, I would encourage you as I believe-I forget who I said this to earlier this morning-you need to read these texts in the context to what was going on at the time. So, when I make the comment about Trump having no idea how destabilizing his presidency would be, that came on the heels of a speech where then-candidate Trump said that he didn’t know whether or not the United States should honor its commitment to mutual defense under NATO.”
The line of questioning then moved to Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Norton, from Washington, D.C.
She asked Strzok, “We’ve been reading from your personal phone and your official phone. Did it occur to you that your personal, political messages, if they became public might be misinterpreted in light of your role in the investigation?”
Strzok: “Congresswoman, to be very honest, I..I didn’t anticipate that because I never thought these text would become public.”
Norton: “Some of them were not on your personal phone?”
Strzok: “Correct, yes that’s correct.”
Norton: “So, that means anything that’s on your official phone, of course, belongs to the public. So, I just want to establish that this confusion between your public and private phone is part of our problem here today.”
Following Norton was Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), who asked Strzok about the message that was sent to Page, wherein Strzok claimed to be able to smell the Trump supporters while at a Walmart in southern Virginia. Chabot compared the specific text message to when Hillary Clinton called all of Trump’s base “deplorables”.
He asked Strzok, “Don’t you think that the American people, when they’re paying your salary, when they’re paying for a fair and unbiased investigation by none other than the FBI deserved a whole lot better than what those comments I just referred to reflect?”
Strzok: “Congressman, two things. One, I absolutely regret the appearance of some of those texts, and I wish I would have said or phrased, or not said at all some of the things that I did. Two, I take..I disagree completely with your attribution of my views of Trump supporters. I’ve never said that, I expressed no such thing. I,.. there are millions and millions and millions of Americans that I respect and honor that voted for Mr. Trump.”
Chabot: “This is not about us, it’s about you and whether or not the American people can have the confidence in the investigations you were involved in and whether you were fair and unbiased when you investigated both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump-would you agree with that?”
Strzok: “Sir, I appreciate that concern very much, and let me explain a little bit about that comment. I have the utmost respect for Congress, for its role in oversight, for its role in passing laws, for any of the functions. What I was stating in that comment, was the efforts by some to turn legitimate oversight activity into unwarranted criticism of the FBI, when the FBI was doing nothing but it’s job.”
Chabot then brought up several employees of the FBI during this time frame who donated money to both the Obama campaign and Hillary’s campaign, all of which are current employees of the FBI, asking about their bias.
Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee actually told Peter Strzok that if he could, he would give him a Purple Heart for everything that he’s been through with this ordeal. “You deserve one,” Cohen told Strzok.
“This has been an attack on you, and a way to attack Mr. Mueller and the investigation, that is to get at Russia Collusion involved in our election, which is what this committee should be looking at. A direct strike at democracy,” Cohen said. Cohen added that Mr. Putin was the president’s “very good friend, and a man he cannot say anything bad about.”
Cohen ended by partially quoting Jack Nicholson’s famous line in the movie A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth”, when referring to the investigation and said, “The truth is, this is the most corrupt administration ever and it’s going to be exposed by Robert Mueller, thank God.”
Jim Jordan, Republican Congressman from Ohio asked Strzok next a line of questions regarding him providing information to the press, or media personalities about Trump/Russia investigation in 2016, 2017 or 2018, to which Strzok said he has not.
Jordan asked Strzok to look at an email with the subject line “Buzzfeed is about to publish the dossier”, which was sent to Lisa Page, Bill Precept, Jim Bakker, Jim Rybicki and CC’d Andy McCabe.
Jordan: “Are you familiar with this email?”
Strzok: “I am.”
Jordan, “Alright. It says this, ‘Comparing now, the set is only identical to what McCain had (it has differences from what was given to us by Corn and Simpson)’, did you write all that?
Strzok: “Uh, Congressman, let me answer it this way..First, if I could address the Chairman. Over the break I was authorized by the general council..”–from a previous question asked by Gowdy.
He was stopped by the Gowdy and redirected back to Jordan’s question, who then asked again, “You wrote this? That was the question. Here’s the ‘from’ line. Do you see the ‘from’ line? It says from Peter Strzok, and then it says to: Lisa Page and a whole bunch of other key people of the FBI, so did you write this?”
Strzok: “I did write this.”
Jordan: “Ok, let me ask a couple questions about it. “It has differences from what was given to us by Corn and Simpson, who’s Corn?”
Strzok: “Sir, to answer that question, and I would love to answer that question..and every part of me, and you know why I want to answer that question because you have this information, I, sir if I may, I cannot answer that question.”
Jordan interrupts and says, “You wrote about it, it’s now public. Who’s Corn, who’s Simpson?”
Strzok: “Based on direction by the FBI, sir, I am not able to answer questions about ongoing investigative matters.”
Jordan: “I just want to figure this out. I want to figure this out Agent Strzok. You’re referencing three copies of the dossier, the Buzzfeed copy you have, the one John McCain’s staff gave to you, and the one that you said you got from Corn and Simpson. The one McCain gave to you and the one Buzzfeed has are identical in your words, but the Corn and Simpson one is different. This is kind of important.”
Strzok: “It is important, and I want to answer your question. Here is the position that I’m in, Congressman…”
Strzok went on to repeat that he has been directed not to answer questions about an ongoing investigation, so Jordan switches up his question.
Jordan: “You already told me that you read it, I want to know who Corn and Simpson are,” to which Strzok repeats he’s unable to answer the question.
Jordan: “I know what you’re saying, I know what you’re saying. Ok, let me ask you this, did you ever communicate with David Corn?
Stzrok said no, he had no communication with David Corn, Glen Simpson or Nellie Ohr, but he admitted he had been in communication with Bruce Ohr.
Jordan asked when he communicated with Bruce Ohr, to which Strzok answered, “My recollection is somewhere between three, four or five times in the late 2016, early 2017 time frame.” When asked what they talked about, again Strzok said he was not able to answer any further than they spoke about investigative matters.
Jordan asked one last question of Strzok: ” Glen Simpson testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22nd, 2017 he was asked: ‘Did anyone from Fusion ever communicate with the FBI, his response, ‘No, no one from Fusion ever spoke to the FBI.’ So here’s what I’m having trouble understanding, if Glen Simpson says no one ever spoke with the FBI, how is it you got a copy of the dossier from Simpson?”
Strzok: “Sir, I can tell you I never had contact with Fusion, with Mr. Simpson, with Mr. Corn.”
Jordan: “This is the frustration that every single member of this committee feels,is when Agent Strzok won’t answer, well more importantly, the American people feel Agent Strzok won’t answer fundamental questions like-the guy he references in an email, Corn and Simpson, and won’t tell me who they are…this is unbelievable, but that’s where it’s gotten to now and it’s as frustrating as it can get. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.”
Again, a yelling match ensues on whether or not Strzok is allowed to answer questions.
Gowdy tries to come back in and ask his earlier question about the dates of July 31 2016 and Aug 6, 2016, but again Gowdy gets the same answer as before that he’s not able to answer the question and would have to check the case file.
The Democrats interrupted three times during this period to ask why Gowdy was allowed to ask Strzok questions on “their time” and even claimed Goodlatte was making up rules as he went along.
Gowdy finally was able to make his point, on why he was asking the specific question he had and told Strzok, “Chairman, I appreciate you letting me make that clear, and again the context when you would not answer it was you used the word impeachment on May the 18th, 2017 and you used the impeachment on May the 22nd, 2017. Your testimony is you can’t recall a single interview you would have done as part of that investigation that was supposed to lead to impeachment, and I think that line of questioning, and I’m glad the FBI finally realized it, albeit a couple hours too late. When you are prejuding not just a result, but a punishment, which is what impeachment is, when you are prejudging the conviction and the sentencing, when you have not conducted a single, solitary interview, I’m sorry Agent Strzok, but that is letting your bias impact your professional judgement.”
Strzok: “Sir, so look, I never prejudged anything. Not in this case, not in any others.”
Jordan: “Impeachment for what Agent Strzok? Impeachment for what?”
Strzok: “At the time I was a deputy assistant director, I have section chiefs, unit chiefs, in the field, supervisors, agents, people who typically do interviews, not me. If something is notable or high level, I might be involved, but it would be rare-if never that it would be typical that I’d get out there and conduct interviews. Second, you mentioned the use of the word impeachment, that was used in the context of my not knowing what this would lead to. I was not prejudging impeachment, when I used that term it was saying it might be nothing, it might lead all the way to something on the…..(unintelligible)
Jordan: “Agent Strzok, are you kidding me?”
Things really got heated when Congressman from Texas, Louie Gohmert, questioned Strzok about his affair with Lisa Page, the first time it had been pinpointed since the hearing began.
Gowdy had the opportunity to question Strzok one last round of questions and Strzok seemed to do a lot of ducking and weaving around questions claiming most of his text messages were hyperbole.
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman began screaming at Trey Gowdy, “If you can’t control yourself, how can you expect this committee to control itself? You’ve been out of control since you’ve been on this committee. This is not Benghazi.”
Once Gowdy recognized Coleman and gave her the floor, she took to attacking the president while speaking to Strzok, “You have nothing to do with the president of the United States disgracing this country every single solitary day when he embraces our enemies and is disrespectful to our allies.” She went on a rampage over President Trump by mentioning that it wasn’t Strzok’s fault Trump imposed higher tariffs on Canada, carved out opportunities for Ivanka’s business opportunities with China, and that Puerto Rico is still “underwater with no power.” She then opened up her remaining 2 and a half minutes to Strzok, giving him the floor. Strzok took that time to say that he is telling the truth, and that he can’t express how much he loves the FBI.
Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis pointed out further bias of Strzok by asking about the Anthony Weiner laptop and why Strzok paid more attention to the Trump/Russia investigation than he did the Weiner laptop with the plethora of information the laptop contains. DeSantis asked if Strzok’s conduct was being reviewed by Horowitz, but Stzrok replied that it was not.
Anthony Weiner was mentioned again when Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi asked Strzok about the issue of leaks and how Comey was concerned. He asked how that affected the warrant for Weiner’s laptop, to which Strzok said Comey himself, would have to be the one to answer that question. Krishnamoorthi asked Strzok about Giuliani’s contact with active agents, and Strzok said it did cause him some concern.
Jim Jordan tried asking about Bruce Ohr again and him being employed by Fusion again and Strzok gave him the same answer as before, that he’s not able to answer those questions as directed by the FBI. Jordan referenced a tweet put out by David Corn yesterday, saying, “We all know it’s David Corn.” A moment later, Strzok’s lawyer hands him a note saying he’s able to answer the question that Jordan had been trying to ask all day. “The FBI received documents from Mr. Ohr,” was all that Strzok was able to say.