A transcript of fired FBI agent Peter Strzok‘s behind-closed-doors testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in June 2018 was released on Thursday. The back-and-forth between Strzok and then-Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) regarding the meaning of the F-word (and other anti-Trump texts Strzok sent to fired FBI lawyer Lisa Page) immediately caught attention. The testimony is more than 300 pages long, and the Gowdy-Strzok fireworks began around page 206.
Why did you use the I-word?
Gowdy began his grilling of Strzok by probing him about why he was calling Trump a “fucking idiot” over text message.
“Agent Strzok, when we left, we were in October of 2016, and you were responding to a text where you wrote: I’m riled up. Trump is a fucking idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer. And if I remember correctly, that was in response to your watching the debate. In October of 2016, were you still working on the Russia probe.”
“I was?” Strzok asked.
“How about in November of 2016, were you still working on the Russia probe then?” Gowdy asked again.
“Yes,” Strzok said.
Eventually, Gowdy shifted his attention to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Strzok’s texts from the day after it happened. Strzok was infamously removed from working on the investigation and fired due to inflammatory and anti-Trump texts like the ones we are about to review once again.
“May the 18th . Anything important happen around May the 17th or 18th that you can recall?” Gowdy asked.
“Yeah. So, at that time, it was right around the time that Special Counsel Mueller was appointed, I believe,” Strzok said.
“Now when you say ‘right around the time,’ how about the day after,” Gowdy replied.
“Okay,” Strzok said.
Strzok said that his concerns about Trump were “independent of any party or any candidate,” but Gowdy didn’t buy it.
“My concern, my desire to work on this wouldn’t matter if it was candidate Trump or candidate Clinton or candidate Sanders or candidate whoever,” Strzok said. “My drive, my interest in doing this, as a national security professional, was from the perspective of protecting the United States.”
Gowdy said that was “interesting” because Strzok sent a text on May 18th (day after Mueller appointment) saying, “Who gives a fuck. One more AD versus an investigation leading to impeachment.” The lawmaker said this suggested to him that Strzok had already made up his mind about Trump impeachment.
Strzok said, “that’s not true.”
Gowdy then pressed Strzok on why he was talking about “impeachment” four days after Special Counsel Mueller‘s Russia investigation was announced.
“This is 4 days after Special Counsel Mueller’s probe has been announced. The day it was announced you referenced impeachment. Four days later, you referenced impeachment,” Gowdy said. “It sounds, I guess, to someone who might be a little bit cynical that you had already made up your mind how you wanted it to end. Is that true?”
“I had absolutely not,” Strzok replied. Gowdy asked, again, “why bring up impeachment?”
Strzok offered a lengthy explanation of his thinking: “That was one of the possible and the most severe outcome of the investigation. And when you read it in the context of what was going on, President Trump firing Director [James] Comey and on the one hand saying it had to do with the Clinton investigation” — which Strzok also worked on — “and then telling a Russian diplomat that a great pressure had been lifted on the Russia investigations of him, when in the context of that footnote you’ll see was news reporting that President Trump had asked intelligence community chiefs to take certain actions, my concern and thought was [impeachment] was certainly possible. But in no way had I prejudged or decided that nay investigative outcome was going to happen.”
We’ll come back to this because Strzok gives a slightly different answer later on.
What did you mean by “fucking terrifying,” and what does OMG mean?
Here’s where the F-bombs really started dropping.
Gowdy asked Strzok about his response to a New York Times article, headlined “Victory for Mr. Trump Remains Possible.” Strzok had texted “OMG, this is fucking terrifying.”
“What does ‘OMG’ stand for?” Gowdy asked. “Oh, my God,” Strzok said.
“Oh, my God, this is fucking terrifying. What was terrifying about a victory by Trump?” he asked. “Did you share her concern [Page’s?] that you were scared for the organization of the FBI if the New York Times probability numbers continued to drop?”
“I wouldn’t say I was scared I think I thought there might be a severe test of the rule of law in the FBI,” Strzok answered.
Gowdy wanted to know what Strzok meant by “fucking terrifying” in that text. Strzok admitted that he was referring to the “prospect that candidate Trump might be elected President.”
“And just so I’m right in my mind, this is why you were also dispassionately, objectively investigating whether or not he colluded/coordinated with a foreign actor to interfere with the election?” Gowdy asked.
“No,” Strzok said, “Those are independent things, Congressman.”
What do you mean by ‘F’ing’?
Gowdy asked what Strzok meant by “F’ing,” in the context of text criticism of former Green Party candidate Jill Stein and former Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
“Well, on November the 3rd, you did text: Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are F’ing everything up too. What did ‘F’ing’ stand for?” Gowdy asked.
Strzok had a blunt answer.
“Fucking,” he said.
“So Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are fucking everything up too. What did you mean by that?”
“My sense was, again, from a personal perspective, looking at the race, the Presidential race, that a variety of actors were causing debates and shifts and movement in a way that was causing core messaging or just general sentiment to be moved and shifted,” Strzok answered.
“Well, whose chances did you think Stein and Johnson were hurting, Clinton’s or Trump’s?” Gowdy asked.
“No, I believe Clinton’s,” Strzok replied.
“Well, I could almost take from reading this text that you wanted her to win,” Gowdy said.
“Congressman, I had — like many agents, I have, you know, certainly strongly held political opinions that are personal. And I have – there have been Presidents that I’ve liked that have been elected; there have been Presidents that I didn’t particularly care for that were elected.”
“So it’s fair to say you were a Clinton supporter?”
“Congressman, I think that’s clear from the reading of the text, certainly, that I wasn’t a Trump fan,” Strzok said.
Strzok declines to go into detail about why he thought impeachment was possible
“So, in November, when you said it would be fucking terrifying for him to become the President, you were investigating whether or not [Trump] had colluded/coordinated/otherwise conspired with a foreign actor to interfere with the election,” Gowdy said.
“No, I don’t think that’s accurate. The allegations that have been made public are that — allegations that members of his campaign may have been doing that,” Strzok said.
The conversation then shifted back to impeachment.
“Well, then why in the world would be talking about impeachment if you didn’t think he’d done anything wrong?” Gowdy asked.
“Because, without getting into details here that are either classified or in the context of an ongoing investigation, my concern, based on the credible allegations that members of his campaign, numbers and coordination unknown, were actively colluding with the Government of Russia struck me as an extraordinary threat to America,” Strzok said.
This is an interesting exchange. Strzok said that there have been no public allegations that Trump himself colluded, but declined to get into classified details.
Peter Strzok before House J… on Scribd
[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]