Ex-FBI lawyer next to face grilling over anti-Trump texts

Ex-FBI lawyer next to face grilling over anti-Trump texts

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, who represents Trenton, Princeton and Old Bridge, interrupted Gowdy and said Strzok is the one testifying, not the former Greenville prosecutor.

At this point, Gohmert cut back in, and the two spoke loudly over one another. Bannon had testified to the House Intelligence Committee a year ago, but did not answer any question not approved by the White House counsel. The committees ultimately voted to table the motion at the end of hearing.

For a brief moment, lawmakers floated the idea of Strzok having some company when he appears Thursday - as the committee offered Page a spot to testify at Thursday's hearing.

Strzok told lawmakers in his opening statement that he followed department protocol handling sensitive information about the extent of Russia's meddling in the US election and the Trump team's potential role in it.

"Not at all", a defiant Strzok said. Strzok responded that he had been advised by the FBI's lawyers not to address specifics of what is still an ongoing investigation - now the Mueller investigation.

Trump has seized on private, strongly anti-Trump text messages between Strzok and Page during the 2016 election, to tar the Federal Bureau of Investigation with allegations of bias and undermine the probe into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. Strzok: "No ... we'll stop it".

"In terms of [that text], you need to understand that that was written late at night, off the cuff, and it was in response to a series of events that included then candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero", Strzok said.

Gohmert is also accusing Strzok of lying when he expressed his opinion of whether derogatory comments he made about President Donald Trump in text messages showed bias.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., took his five minutes to force Strzok to read some of his own texts - including ones that used vulgarities.

"I don't recall and I have to check the case file", he said.

First, it would be highly unusual in this context to say "we" in referring to the electorate.

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"They would not tolerate any improper behaviour in me anymore than I would tolerate it in them", Strzok said. It simply couldn't happen.

Some Democrats applauded after he finished speaking.

The controversial texts first came to light in December, when it was revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller dismissed Strzok from his team the previous summer upon learning of the messages.

Cohen went on to describe the hearing as "an attack on you and a way to attack [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller and the investigation that is to get at Russian collusion involved in our elections, which is what this committee should be looking at". Strzok says he never allowed personal opinions to taint his work.

But he said that he couldn't recall if he had interviewed any witnesses before texting Ms. Page that the president should be impeached.

"I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there's no big there there", Strzok said in the text.

"How can the Rigged Witch Hunt proceed when it was started, influenced and worked on, for an extended period of time, by former FBI Agent/Lover Peter Strzok?".

The sharp tone of Strzok's statement sets the stage for a contentious hearing following hours of closed-door questioning last week. Jeffress added that Page received word from the Justice Department only "after 11 p.m".

Goodlatte went on to say she is still under the subpoena after dubbing it "disturbing" when she refused to comply with it on Wednesday.

Trump weighed in on Twitter during his departure from a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels on Thursday, slamming Page for "dodging a subpoena" to avoid being grilled by the House committees.

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