Peter Strzok, the top FBI agent who is accused of sending anti-Donald Trump texts, was on the Congressional hot seat July 12, 2018 for an exceptionally contentious hearing. You can watch the full Strzok hearing video replay below.
Strzok vigorously defended himself at the hearing as House Republicans went on the attack over text messages he sent to his former lover, Lisa Page, while she, too, worked at the FBI. Here’s how you can watch the 10-hour hearing video replay in full:
The Wall Street Journal has called Strzok “one of the FBI’s most experienced counterintelligence agents.” He is also a former U.S. Army officer.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Hearing Was Tense & Heated
During the hearing, Strzok defended himself over accusations that his opinions in the texts tainted his work on both the Hillary Clinton email and Donald Trump Russia investigations. “At no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” Strzok said at one point during the hearing. “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 described the politicized climate in the country at another point.
“I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity,” Strzok told members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees during the heated hearing. “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.”
The hearing was so contentious that at one point Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas told Strzok: “I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her about Lisa,” referring to Lisa Page, the woman with whom Strzok had an affair.
Strzok graduated from Georgetown University, a list of donors to the university showed. Strzok earned his master’s degree from the school in 2013, the list indicated. In 2012, he and his wife, Melissa Hodgman, donated between $2,500-4,999 to their alma mater.
Peter Strzok Is Accused of Having an Affair With an FBI Lawyer Named Lisa Page, Reports Say
Peter Strzok has had a hand in many of the FBI’s most recent controversies. Fox News reported that “Strzok, a former deputy to the assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, oversaw the bureau’s interviews with ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, changed former FBI Director James Comey’s early draft language about Hillary Clinton’s actions regarding her private email server from ‘grossly negligent’ to ‘extremely careless’ and reportedly helped push the largely unverified dossier on Trump that was initially prepared by Fusion GPS for the Clinton campaign’s opposition research.”
According to The Washington Post, during the Clinton investigation, “Strzok was involved in a romantic relationship with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.” McCabe himself has been criticized because his wife received money from groups with alliances to Clinton. According to Newsweek, “Jill McCabe received a total of $675,288 from two entities associated with McAuliffe: a political action committee and the Virginia Democratic Party.” She was running for Virginia’s senate at the time. “McAuliffe is a longtime friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton,” reported Newsweek.
Strzok exchanged messages with Page that helped lead to his ouster from the Mueller team, the Post reported, expressing anti-Trump feelings.
According to The Daily Caller, the Inspector General first unearthed the texts.
The site adds that the former Army officer helped lead the Clinton email probe and conducted the 2016 interview with Clinton.
“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” the lawyer, Lisa Page, wrote to Strzok, according to The Post.
“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded, The Post says the IG report reveals. The text was sent in August 2016 only a few months before the presidential election, and after the FBI had started its investigation into Trump campaign aides, according to The Post.
Because of Peter Strzok’s text messages, “we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation” was free from bias, an Inspector General’s report, that looked into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, said.
The report stated, “In assessing the decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop, we were particularly concerned about text messages sent by Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions they made were impacted by bias or improper considerations. Most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, and the implication in some of these text messages, particularly Strzok’s August 8 text message (“we’ll stop” candidate Trump from being elected), was that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. Under these circumstances, we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”
Page, too, will meet with members of Congress but behind closed doors.
It then emerged that Strzok played a key role in the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. CNN reported that Strzok changed former FBI Director James Comey’s “earlier draft language describing Clinton’s actions as ‘grossly negligent’ to ‘extremely careless,'” in Comey’s statement about the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails. Grossly negligent is a phrase with legal significance as that is the standard needed to prove criminality.
However, complicating Strzok’s persona, it was later revealed that Strzok helped write the first James Comey letter that reopened an investigation into Clinton’s emails shortly before the presidential election, which Clinton has argued negatively affected her chances at the polls.
“God Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0,” Strzok wrote to Page, according to one message obtained by Politico. “Also did you hear [Trump] make a comment about the size of his d*ck earlier? This man can not be president,” Page responded, Politico reported. CBS News, which also obtained the emails, wrote that Strzok, on election day, “expressed his dismay at seeing a map showing…Trump winning — he called it ‘f*****g terrifying,’ and a week after the election, Strzok and Page were also alarmed to see that Jeff Sessions was likely to be named attorney general,” with Strzok writing “Sessions for AG” along with an expletive, to which Page replied, “Good god.”
Page and Strzok also wrote disparaging messages about Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, “with Page expressing the hope that he ‘fails and crashes in a blaze of glory,’” reported CBS.
In March 2016, Page wrote: “God trump is a loathsome human….omg he’s an idiot.”
“He’s awful,” Strzok replied.