Strzok implored Republicans to appreciate the context of his text, which was sent late at night, shortly after the Republican nominee had "insulted the immigrant family of a fallen war hero" (i.e., the family of Khizr Muazzam Khan, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention).
When Gowdy asked Strzok why he got kicked off the investigation into whether Trump colluded with Russian officials in order to steal the election from Hillary Clinton in 2016, the FBI agent repeatedly insisted that it wasn't because he was biased against the president. I'm stating to you, it is not my understanding that he kicked me off because of any bias.
'At no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took, ' Strzok said.
Meanwhile, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte told Strzok he will be recalled after the hearing and considered for contempt charges.
"Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took", he said.
The agent also called Trump an "idiot" in an August 2015 message and texted "God Hillary should win 100,000,000 - 0" after a March 2016 GOP debate. It also reflected an effort to shift attention away from the content of Strzok's texts and onto what he says is the more pressing issue: the Russians' "grave attack" on American democracy and continuing efforts to divide the country.
Strzok told lawmakers in his opening statement that he followed department protocol handling sensitive information about the extent of Russia's meddling in the US election and the Trump team's potential role in it.
Peter Strzok said he had information with "the potential to derail and quite possibly defeat" Trump but said the "thought of expressing that or exposing that information never crossed his mind". "At every step, at every investigative decision, there are multiple layers of people above me, the assistant director, executive assistant director, deputy director and director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and multiple layers of people below me, section chiefs, supervisors, unit chiefs, case agents and analysts, all of whom were involved in all of these decisions". "Right?!" Page texted Strzok.
Republicans, unsatisfied with Strzok's explanations Thursday, remained on the offensive throughout the hearing.
That assertion drew applause from committee Democrats, who have accused Republicans of seeking to discredit the Russian Federation investigation in order to protect Trump. "We don't enjoy finding compelling evidence that the FBI Director had predetermined the outcome of the case months in advance", Goodlatte added. "What does Trump support smell like Mr. Strzok?"
"I'm asking, if you want to have a debate over a two-letter word, we're going to have to do that some other time".
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.
But IG Michael Horowitz "did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected those specific investigative decisions", he told the House Judiciary Committee on June 19.
"I urge our chairmen to change course and to keep their promises to protect the integrity of the special counsel's investigation", Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in his opening statement Thursday.
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