The Latest: Yelling, chaos over FBI agent’s anti-Trump texts
WASHINGTON — The Latest on testimony to Congress by a former FBI agent involved in the Clinton email and Russia probes (all times local):
FBI special agent Peter Strzok says a text message saying “we’ll stop” the election of Donald Trump was written in response to a series of events including Trump’s “disgusting” insult of the family of a fallen American soldier.
Strzok says in congressional testimony that the text reflected his view that the American people would not elect someone “demonstrating that behavior.” Strzok says the comment was in no way a suggestion that he or the FBI would take action to improperly sway the election.
Strzok made the comments in response to heated questioning by Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican. Strzok appeared to refer to derogatory statements Trump made about the family of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.
A joint House hearing to question FBI agent Peter Stzrok quickly devolved into chaos as Republicans demanded he answer questions about the Russia investigation.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers openly yelled at one another as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte said Strzok needed to answer GOP questions and suggested they might recess the hearing and hold him in contempt.
Strzok said he could not answer a question about the early stages of the FBI investigation into Russian intervention because the probe is still ongoing and FBI counsel had instructed him not to. Democrats objected to Goodlatte’s repeated attempts to get Strzok to answer.
At one point, Goodlatte told Strzok he could only consult with his own lawyer, not an FBI lawyer.
Goodlatte eventually let the hearing proceed without calling the panel into recess.
The Republican chairman of the House oversight committee says FBI special agent Peter Strzok (struhk) exhibited “textbook bias” as he investigated both Democrat Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina says Strzok in his mind had Clinton “winning the White House” before he finished her investigation but had Trump “impeached” before he began working on the probe of his campaign ties to Russia. Gowdy was citing derogatory comments Strzok made in text messages while working on the investigations.
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. Strzok says he never allowed personal opinions to taint his work.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte is defending the Republican-led House investigation into the Justice Department as the committee opens a hearing to question former FBI agent Peter Strzok (struhk).
He says the investigation “goes to the very heart of our system of justice, one that is supposed to be fair and treat everyone equally under the law.”
The committee is questioning Strzok because he traded texts criticizing President Donald Trump with an FBI lawyer. Both worked on the FBI investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails and later special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Democrats have said the investigation is an attempt to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. As the hearing began, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings had staffers hold up large signs of people who have pleaded guilty in Mueller’s probe.
An FBI agent whose anti-Trump text messages fueled suspicions of partisan bias will tell lawmakers that his work has never been tainted by politics and that the scrutiny he’s facing represents “just another victory notch in Putin’s belt.”
That’s according to prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press.
Peter Strzok (struhk) helped lead FBI investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email use and potential coordination between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign. He is testifying publicly Thursday for the first time since being removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team following the discovery of the text messages.
He will say that he has never allowed personal opinions to infect his work and that he knew information during the campaign that could have damaged Trump but never contemplated leaking it.