Adamantly (and ridiculously) claiming that the anti-Trump texts he sent to his paramour, FBI attorney Lisa Page, were “not indicative of bias,” Peter Strzok (shown) testified before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees yesterday. The testimony is part of a continuing investigation about political bias in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI.
In June, an inspector general (IG) report concluded that both agencies were biased toward Hillary Clinton in the investigation of her illegal e-mail server, but also concluded that that bias did not affect the outcome of the investigation.
In his opening statement, Strzok, who admitted to sending the texts to Page, only regretted that his texts were taken the wrong way. “I testify today," he said, "with significant regret, recognizing that my texts have created confusion and caused pain for people I love. Certain private messages of mine have provided ammunition for misguided attacks against the FBI, an institution I love deeply and have served proudly for more than twenty years.”
Among those “confusing” texts were “F**k Trump,” “Trump is a disaster,” and “Just went to a Southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support.” As the hearing wore on, Strzok repeatedly regretted how some of the texts were phrased and insisted that they lacked “context.” However, it’s a little hard to see how context could make the phrase “F**k Trump” any clearer.
Strzok was the agent in charge of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, which found no criminal wrongdoing. He also participated in the Trump-Russia collusion probe, headed by Robert Mueller. Strzok was removed from the Mueller investigation after his text communications with Page were made public.
The hearing was filled with fireworks, although Strzok himself remained on his Eddie Haskell-like “Gosh, Mrs. Cleaver, I would never be biased in a political investigation” best behavior, even though his texts to Page obviously demonstrated otherwise.
Some of the more interesting moments included these:
Representative Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) asked Strzok exactly how many witnesses Strzok had questioned from July 31 until August 8, the beginning of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, when the most infamous text exchange with Page occurred. (Page asked in a text, “Trump’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?” Strzok replied to Page, “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”) Strzok replied to Gowdy that he was instructed by FBI counsel not to answer that question. Strzok went on to dodge question after question in a smug, Clinton-like fashion.
At one point during Gowdy’s questioning, which was repeatedly interrupted by Democrats, Gowdy asked whether Strzok should have been dismissed for bias when he first wrote the texts. Strzok replied, “I do not have bias.” Strzok went on to claim that his personal opinions had no bearing on how he handled either the Clinton e-mail scandal or the Trump-Russia probe. He then let Gowdy know that he did not “appreciate” how Gowdy described those events. Gowdy shot back, “I don’t give a damn what you appreciate, Agent Strzok.”
As the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), spoke, Democrat staffers held up posters of the three Trump campaign officials and two campaign associates who have pled guilty to various charges in the Mueller probe. “Let me underscore, these are not allegations — they are admissions,” Cummings said.
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) asked Strzok the question many wanted answered: “And I can’t help but wonder, when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page?” While some think Gohmert went too far with this question, the question was hard to hear over the jeers of the Democrats on the committee. Strzok then answered that he had always told the truth and that the question said more about Gohmert’s character than his own.
Earlier this week, Page, with whom Strzok was having an affair, refused to meet with the Judiciary and Oversight Committees, despite being subpoenaed. On Thursday morning, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced that Page would attend a closed-door deposition on Friday, after being threatened with contempt-of-Congress charges should she not comply.
Unhappy with many of Strzok’s evasive answers to the committee's inquiries, Goodlatte said at the conclusion of the hearing that Strzok would be subject to “recall to allow the committee to consider proceeding with a contempt citation.”
Listening to Peter Strzok say over and over again that he had no bias led makes one wonder whether Strzok understands what the word means:
Bias: noun. Prejudice in favor of or against one thing person or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.
As a verb, the meaning is to cause to feel or show inclination of prejudice for or against someone or something.
So yes, Strzok indeed has engaged in bias. And the kind of bias that leads one to make remarks such as “F**k Trump,” or “Just went to a Southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support,” is the kind of bias that one cannot simply turn off when it comes time to do one's job. Peter Strzok doesn’t deserve to be in the FBI. He doesn’t deserve to ever draw a government salary again.
But just wait and see. With his good looks and Eddie Haskell-like charm, he could soon have a high-paying gig on CNN or some other mainstream media outlet. After all, they claim not to be biased, too.
Photo: AP Images