FBI Agent Peter Strzok appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday to answer questions. This included questions about the text messages he exchanged with FBI attorney Lisa Page that raised concerns of political bias in the investigations of Hillary Clinton‘s emails and Trump campaign ties to Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.
It was insane.
At one point, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) asked Strzok how many people he had interviewed for the Russia probe between July 31 and August 8, 2016. Strzok told the Committee that FBI attorneys instructed him not to answer any questions about the ongoing investigation.
At that point, Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) threatened Strzok with a possible criminal charge for contempt if he refused to answer. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) tried to argue with Goodlatte, but the chairman was having none of it, stating, “The gentleman is not recognized.”
This went on for quite a while. Additional voices chimed in with their objections or approvals of Goodlatte’s threat. Finally, Goodlatte addressed Strzok directly, asking him if he was refusing to answer the question. Strzok asked for permission to speak with FBI counsel. Goodlatte said he could speak to his personal counsel, but not the FBI’s.
“Mr. Chairman, there’s no basis for that,” Nadler said.
“The gentleman is not recognized,” Goodlatte said again.
“And the chairman is not being proper!” Nadler retorted, to which Goodlatte responded, “The chairman is being proper.”
Strzok again stated he could not answer and Goodlatte said the Committee would consider a contempt citation.
As far as Gowdy’s actual question goes, it turned out Strzok’s refusal to answer didn’t even matter.
“Here’s the good news, I already know the answer to it,” Gowdy said, stating that he had viewed the file showing that Strzok had not interviewed anyone yet during that time. 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.
Strzok claimed that those messages should be taken in the proper context.
[Image via CNN screengrab]