GOP reps threaten maligned Federal Bureau of Investigation agent with contempt in House hearing

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok testifies before the the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform during a hearing on

Embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok faced off with House Republicans Thursday at a fiery and raucous hearing where he forcefully defended his actions in the Hillary Clinton email and Russian Federation investigations amid sharp attacks over the anti-Trump text messages he sent.

Thursday's House Judiciary and Oversight committee hearing with Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter Stzrok "was 10 hours of traveshamockery, a travesty wrapped in a sham wrapped in a mockery - not my word, but it fits", Chris Cuomo said on CNN Thursday night.

Representative Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in his opening statement that the hearing was necessary.

Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrats on the House oversight and judiciary committees, said under House rules the minority party is allowed to demand a witness of their own.

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Strzok worked on the Russian Federation investigation, which the FBI started but that Mueller later took over.

In one exchange, Ms. Page, who also worked on both investigations, said to Mr. Strzok that Trump is "not ever going to become president, right?"

Reading several of Strzok's text messages back to him, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) accused Strzok of having an "unusual and largely self-serving" definition of bias. In it, Strzok describes his reluctance to work on behalf of the special counsel, and that seemed to imply he didn't think there would be substantial findings of collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign team.

"My presumption, based on that frightful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be President of the United States", Strzok said.

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FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok testifies before the the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform on Capitol Hill, Thursday, July 12, 2018.

In his most direct defense of the controversial texts, Strzok said he had written them "off-the-cuff" and that it was important to view them in the context of the heated election in 2016, during which Trump engaged in numerous outrageous, racially-charged feuds - including with the family of Muslim U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004. But the report said it found no evidence of political bias in the FBI's decision to not pursue criminal charges against Clinton.

Democrats, however, agreed with the sentiment expressed by their colleague, California congressman Ted Lieu: "Let me start by saying, this is a stupid and ridiculous hearing". Both Strzok and Page were booted from Mueller's investigation a year ago after he discovered their texts. "We'll stop it", Mr. Strzok replied.

Strzok said he was directed by FBI's legal counsel not to answer questions about an ongoing investigation, but Goodlatte demanded that he answer Gowdy's question, prompting a lengthy delay before Strzok asked to speak to the FBI general counsel. "We don't want to read text message after text message dripping with bias against one of the two presidential candidates", Goodlatte said, adding that the congressional inquiry "goes to the very heart of our system of justice", and that Strzok and other feds had turned that "on its head". Page will attend a closed-door interview on Friday with the committees.

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Giuliani reiterated the president's nickname for special counsel Robert Mueller's probe-"witch hunt"-and claimed the probe should be wrapped up as soon as possible".

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