Strzok also worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. However, when Justice Department officials saw texts he exchanged with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair, in which they disparaged Donald Trump, Mueller removed him from the investigation.
Representative David Cicilline told Strzok he is being used as "a prop, so they can promote an narrative in an ongoing effort to distract from the serious investigation by the special counsel that is closing in on the Trump inner circle". Gowdy blasted Strzok for saying in messages to Page that Trump was a "menace" who he would "stop", while the investigation was still in its infancy. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump.
The hearing immediately got off to a contentious start Thursday, with Republicans slamming Strzok and Democrats warning their colleagues not to interfere with Mueller's investigation. We've been flooded with hate-Trump messages.
Meanwhile, across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort arrived at his new jail facility, as he awaits the first of two trials on charges of money laundering, illegal foreign lobbying and obstruction of justice. But then it kept that investigation completely secret from the public, lest news of it affect the outcome of the investigation in any way.
'At no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took, ' Strzok said.
And that's what you have to keep in mind as you watch these ludicrous hearings, and everything else the Republicans do with regard to this issue.
Trump has repeatedly belittled Strzok publicly. In addition, it's a stretch to say that merely providing the number of witnesses Strzok interviewed when the FBI was still running the Russian Federation investigation in any way compromises the Mueller investigation.
Strzok told lawmakers in his opening statement that he followed department protocol handling sensitive information about the extent of Russia's meddling in the USA election and the Trump team's potential role in it. "At times my criticism was blunt, but despite how it has been characterized it was not limited to one person or one party".
"The idea that she was willing to come voluntarily and this is all about document review that she's had the ability to review for seven months - many of which she wrote, by the way - it just does not hold water", Meadows said, complaining that a U.S. Marshal had to deliver Page the subpoena early in the morning.
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This, I think, is a smart tactic-playing defense would allow the Republicans to continue insinuating guilt, while going on the offensive against their inquisitors casts the accusations in their proper partisan light.
So today we saw, for instance, Rep. Trey Gowdy badgering Strzok about the meaning of individual words in his late-night text messages to his girlfriend, using Gowdy's patented prosecutorial technique of shouting a question at a witness, and then when the witness begins to answer, interrupting and shouting a different question at a louder volume.
Other Democrats called, "point of order!"
"My presumption [was] based on that terrible, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States", Strzok explained.
"But 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". "But unfortunately this polarization is being fostered by Mr. Trump in terms of the types of things he says and what he tweets".
"So it sounds like when you were writing these emails in the heat of the campaign, you had a lot of company on the Republican side of the aisle", Connolly told Strzok.
Strzok said Thursday he has continued working with Horowitz and his team to provide information related to the DOJ's 2016 Clinton email and Trump-Russia cases.
"They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me anymore than I would tolerate it in them", he went on. And the suggestion that I in some dark chamber somewhere in the Federal Bureau of Investigation would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards, and somehow be able to do that is astounding to me.
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