Quantcast
Connect with us

The farcical Strzok hearing exposed Republicans at their absolute Trump-defending worst

Published

on

- Commentary

House Republicans’ long-awaited chance to grill an FBI agent who has become a right-wing boogeyman in their efforts to support President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of a deep state conspiracy against his presidency was quickly revealed to be a partisan sideshow on Thursday.

Peter Strzok is the FBI agent who was removed from a probe investigating potential collusion between Trump and his campaign staffers and the Russian government after it was revealed that he and his mistress had exchanged text messages that criticized the future president, as well as other politicians. On Thursday he testified before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees.

This article first appeared in Salon.

While Republicans tried hard to shame him, and by extension discredit the FBI investigation into the president, Strzok fought back with fiery expressions of righteous indignation.

“At no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took. The suggestion that I’m in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards, and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me — it simply couldn’t happen,” Strzok told his congressional inquisitors on Thursday, according to CNN.

This was a perfectly logical thing to say: It has never been assumed that FBI agents would not have political opinions, or would never share those opinions with other people. Indeed, the congressional Republicans blasting Strzok now weren’t vocal or outraged when reports came out shortly before the 2016 presidential election indicating that a number of FBI agents had a pro-Trump, or at least anti-Clinton, bias. The key has always been that FBI agents should not allow their political opinions to influence their work — and for all of the wild accusations made about Strzok and Lisa Page, his lover, none have even come close to proving that their conversations were anything more than expressions of their own individual views.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, chose not to see things that way on Thursday.

“The moment special counsel Bob Mueller found out about Peter Strzok’s text and emails he kicked him off of the investigation,” Gowdy declared. “But that was a year and a half too late. The text and emails may have been discovered in May of 2017, but the bias existed and was manifest a year and a half before that. All the way back to late 2015 and early 2016. So it wasn’t the discovery of texts that got him fired, it was the bias manifest in those texts that made him unfit to objectively and dispassionately investigate.”

Nor did the partisan grandstanding stop with Gowdy’s statement. It reached its nadir when Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, threatened to hold Strzok in contempt for not answering a question about the number of witnesses questioned during the early days of the Trump-Russia probe. Even though Strzok pointed out that he had been advised by the FBI’s legal counsel to not answer questions about ongoing investigations, Goodlatte continued to press the FBI agent, prompting loud objections from Democrats like Rep. Jerry Nadler, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

When Strzok asked if he could speak with the FBI general counsel, he was told that he could only speak with his own counsel.

ADVERTISEMENT

This isn’t to say that Gowdy was done with his own posturing after that incident. When Strzok objected to Gowdy misrepresenting observations that had been previously stated during the hearing about why Mueller removed Strzok from the investigations — with Strzok reiterating that it was not because he was biased but rather because Mueller didn’t want the perception of bias to exist because of his texts — Gowdy used blue language to shoot Strzok down.

“I don’t give a damn what you appreciate Agent Strzok. I don’t appreciate having an FBI agent with an unprecedented level of animus working on two major investigations during 2016,” Gowdy told Strzok.

The best response to this is the joint statement by Nadler and Rep. Elijah Cumming, D-Md.

This investigation is a political charade — a platform to elevate far-right conspiracy theories and undermine the special counsel’s ongoing criminal investigation of the President and his campaign aides.

Strzok’s opening remarks are also notable:

ADVERTISEMENT

I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity. I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.

That is precisely it.

It is inconceivable that the Republicans controlling Congress would be grilling Strzok about his personal text messages if they weren’t pertaining to an investigation about President Trump. Indeed, even if he had exchanged personal text messages that were insulting about a completely different, non-political figure who happened to be in some way connected to an ongoing investigation, it is dubious to say the least that these congressional Republicans would care.

The reason they are “outraged” now — and the reason Strzok and Page are being vilified by right-wing media — is because the Republican Party appears terrified that the investigations will uncover something damning about Trump. Already a wealth of evidence exists that circumstantially suggests the president has been compromised by Russia, and much of it strongly suggests that collusion between his campaign and the Russian government occurred (remember that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting?)

ADVERTISEMENT

If Mueller concludes his investigation by saying that Trump did nothing wrong, the same Republicans trying to discredit him now will instantly forget about Strzok and Page and all of the other conspiracy theories they’ve cooked up, and will embrace Mueller’s investigation as total vindication. Because they have reason to believe that Mueller will not come back empty-handed, however, they feel the need to turn people against the investigator in order to save him and, presumably, themselves.

Hence the travesty of the Strzok hearing today, and why his righteous indignation was both appreciated and appropriate.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Republican lawmakers ask judge to destroy smoking gun documents proving GOP’s white supremacy

Published

on

Republicans on Monday sought a court order to block damning documents from being used against them in a lawsuit.

"North Carolina Republican lawmakers on Monday asked a court to make sure the files of the now-deceased GOP strategist Tom Hofeller are destroyed, or at least kept secret, instead of being used in a high-profile gerrymandering lawsuit," the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

"The filing comes after the groups behind the lawsuit, including Common Cause, accused Republican lawmakers of making false statements in court in a previous gerrymandering case, when the state’s 2011 maps were ruled unconstitutional," the newspaper noted. "That blockbuster accusation made national headlines and was, it said, based on Hofeller’s files which had been secret until recently."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump angrily demands newspaper reveal unnamed sources behind bombshell report on his Russia policy

Published

on

President Donald Trump on Monday evening again lashed out at The New York Times for reporting on his Russia policy.

"The story in The New York Times about the U.S. escalating attacks on Russia’s power grid is fake news, and the failing New York Times knows it," Trump argued in a tweet sent after 10 p.m.

"They should immediately release their sources which, if they exist at all, which I doubt, are phony," he continued.

"Times must be held fully accountable," he demanded.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1140804748423118848

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump seethes and calls Fox ‘fake news’ after seeing a story that made him mad

Published

on

Trouble appears to be brewing between President Donald Trump and the cable news station he loves: Fox News.

In a tweet Monday night, the president lashed out at the network over its polling and called it “fake news’ — an epithet he usually reserves for mainstream outlets:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1140768516288782336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Media Matters for America Senior Fellow Matthew Gertz, who has previously noted that Trump appears to record news segments and watch them a few hours later, suggested that the president appeared to be reacting to an earlier segment from Special Report with Bret Baier. The segment showed that, even according to Fox News’ polling, Trump trails every single leading candidate in the Democratic field in head-to-head matchups.

Continue Reading
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

Investigating Trump's henchmen is a full time job, and I'm trying to bring in new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have more stories coming you'll love. Join me and help restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link

Investigating Trump is a full-time job, and I want to add new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have stories coming you'll love. Join me and go ad-free, while restoring the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link