"Peter Strzok putting his hopes on the Russia investigation"
Just saw a few clips of the hearing (which is still going on now 4:30 EST- if you want to watch at CNN)
Rep. Gowdy asked Strzok why didn't Strzok trust the American people about choosing Trump (like Strzok previously claimed to trust the American people) when Strzok texted about Trump resigning 2 months into his presidency?
Strzok said that he didn't like Russia putting Russia's thumbs on the scale in the election.
So that means Strzok must think the Mueller investigation might reveal something.
Republicans Thought Peter Strzok Would Be a Punching Bag. He Just Knocked Them Out.
He was supposed to be a key in the imaginary conspiracy Trump’s congressional lackeys and media fantasists have desperately tried to write as history. He was having none of it.
by RICK WILSON
07.12.18 4:04 PM ET
Those who forget the lessons of televised congressional hearings are doomed to repeat them, which is why the morning segment of the Capitol Hill show trial of veteran FBI agent and former head of the Bureau’s Counterespionage division Peter Strzok turned into a disaster for Republicans.
Donald Trump’s congressional enablers, sycophants, and political suck-ups wanted a punching bag, but Strzok instead delivered one of the rarest of moments: the full Joseph N. Welch.
Welch, the chief counsel for the U.S. Army during the infamous McCarthy hearings in 1954, had reached a breaking point. After McCarthy’s tendentious badgering reached a fever pitch, Welch delivered a famous rejoinder that ended the Wisconsin senator’s career. Watched by millions on live television, Welch went full beast-mode.
“If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so,” said Welch. “I like to think I am a gentleman, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me… You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
This morning, it was Strzok’s turn. After an hour of drama-queen badgering from Trey “Benghazi” Gowdy and Bob Goodlatte, Strzok issued two passionate statements that will be the takeaways from an otherwise disorganized and contentious shitshow of a hearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees.
The first was a ringing defense of the FBI, with Strzok showing the kind of real passion that makes for great television. The FBI lifer issued a ringing defense of himself and his agency, punching Gowdy hard in the nose.
“I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, at no time, in any of these texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took. Furthermore, this isn’t just me sitting here telling you you don’t have to take my word for it. At every step, at every investigative decision, there are multiple layers of people above me, the assistant director, executive assistant director, deputy director, and director of the FBI, and multiple layers of people below me, section chiefs, supervisors, unit chiefs, case agents and analysts, all of whom were involved in all of these decisions. They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me any more than I would tolerate it in them.”
“That is who we are as the FBI. And the suggestion that I 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. And the proposition that that is going on, that it might occur anywhere in the FBI, deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive.”
The second was a shot across Donald Trump’s bow: “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.”
This latest spectacle was designed for one purpose only: the destruction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties. Republicans like Fredo Nunes who have tried to present a series of dramatic, table-flipping reality TV moments to reach that goal have failed time and again to derail the Mueller investigation. This morning was yet another swing-and-a-miss for the Trump GOP.
Because Trump supporters live in a hermetic media echo chamber, these hearings are part of a predictable, hokey Kabuki dance. They’re a device for generating a new round of hyperbolic base-only stories that will follow the same dumb arc as all the rest. In the coming days, you’ll see Sean Hannity flirt with apoplexy, coating the camera lens with flecks of spittle as he rants over Strzok’s perfidy. You’ll see pro-Trump columnists herniate themselves stretching to turn flippant text messages into a vast conspiracy. Twitter will be a flood of moronic memes, white-hot takes, and promises that Strzok will soon be in Gitmo alongside Hillary, Obama, Podesta, and Soros.
None of it will deter the Terminator in the Special Counsel's office. None of it will change the facts of Russia's interference in the 2016 election, and Trump's ass-deep ties to Russian money and influence. Trump's unhinged, shithouse-rat-crazy tweets today should tell you how deeply he fears Mueller.
Strzok was supposed to be a key in the imaginary conspiracy that Trump's congressional lackeys and media fantasists have desperately tried to write as history. The idea that his text messages poison the entire Mueller investigation was a pillar of their defense of the president. This morning they were going for a quick kill. They needed Strzok to flail, and wilt. The Gowdy, Goodlatte, and Gaetz types needed their grandstanding, dick-waving mock outrage to leave Strozk shaking and begging for mercy.
Strzok had none of it. In this morning’s round he left the Trumpists of the House staggered in their corner, cut and shaky, wondering where Strzok learned to hit back that hard.
It’s the embattled FBI agent, not the president, who models American values.
By WILLIAM SALETAN
JULY 16, 20187:58 PM
At his press conference in Helsinki on Monday, President Trump couldn’t bring himself to say anything critical of Vladimir Putin. Instead, Trump attacked Peter Strzok, an FBI agent who helped lead the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s emails and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump told reporters that while he was in Belgium on Thursday, meeting with NATO leaders and supposedly preparing for Monday’s summit with Putin, he watched Strzok’s testimony at a House hearing back home. “If anybody watched Peter Strzok testify,” said Trump, “it was a disgrace to the FBI, it was a disgrace to our country, and you would say that was a total witch hunt.”
In truth, anyone who watched Strzok (the name is pronounced struck) testify saw just the opposite: an honest law enforcement officer standing up to a corrupt president. And that’s why Trump attacked him. Trump doesn’t want Americans to get ideas or inspiration from Strzok. He doesn’t want them to see what backbone looks like. I’ll tell you what it looks like: Republicans tried to put Strzok on trial, and Strzok put Trump on trial instead.
The hearing focused on the now-infamous texts Strzok exchanged in 2016 and 2017 with his then-paramour, FBI attorney Lisa Page. Strzok apologized for the circumstances: for cheating on his wife, for snarking about some Trump supporters, and for exchanging the texts on FBI work phones, which led to a controversy that has damaged the credibility of the FBI and the Russia inquiry. But Strzok destroyed the central charge against him: that he skewed the investigations.
Strzok acknowledged that like most people, he has political opinions. He argued that cops, like jurors, are simply obliged to set aside those opinions when assessing evidence. He challenged lawmakers to show that his opinions had affected any investigative decisions. They couldn’t. Strzok cited the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the Clinton investigation, which found no evidence that he had done anything to favor Clinton or hurt Trump. He noted that immediately after learning that some of Clinton’s emails were on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, he assigned agents to check it out. And despite having known before the election about the investigation into the Trump campaign, he hadn’t leaked it.
Strzok challenged lawmakers to show that his opinions had affected any investigative decisions. They couldn’t.
As Republicans grilled Strzok, they discredited their own caricature of him as a Democratic partisan. They attacked the FBI for neglecting a batch of classified material that theoretically could have implicated Clinton. Strzok, in response, pointed out that in internal deliberations, he had called for searching that material. They decried a 2017 text in which Strzok had warned that there might be “no big there there” in the Russia investigation. In reply, he noted that the message showed he hadn’t prejudged the case. The IG report found that Strzok had advocated the use of warrants, subpoenas, and other aggressive measures against Clinton. At the hearing, he also defended then–FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reveal the reopening of the Clinton investigation in October 2016.
Strzok explained that two things protect the FBI from bias. One is a culture of leaving politics outside the job. If that culture were to fail, he observed, the bureau has a second safeguard: an internal system of checks and balances. “At every step, at every investigative decision, there were multiple layers of people above me … and multiple layers of people below me,” he testified. “They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me, any more than I would tolerate it in them.” The IG report confirmed this, finding that key investigative decisions were collective and that Strzok determined none of them.
These cultural and practical safeguards stand in implicit contrast to the corruption of Trump, his White House, and much of his administration. But when pressed about his texts, Strzok became more explicit. The reason why people like Strzok call Trump a terrible person, it turns out, is that Trump is a terrible person. In an attempt to humiliate Strzok, Rep. Darrell Issa ordered him to read some of his texts.
These included “OMG, he’s an idiot,” “How is Trump other than a douche,” and “Trump is a disaster. I have no idea how destabilizing his presidency would be.” Strzok, in response, explained that when he wrote the text about destabilization, “That came on the heels of a speech where then-candidate Trump said he didn’t know whether or not the United States should honor its defense to mutual defense under NATO.” Issa and his colleagues hastily changed the subject.
Rep. Trey Gowdy pressed Strzok about a text in which he wrote of Trump’s campaign: “We will stop it.” Strzok explained that the “we” referred to voters. He said he’d written that text “in response to a series of events that included then-candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero—and my presumption, based on that horrible, disgusting behavior, that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president.” This answer prompted a rebuke from another Republican, Rep. Paul Gosar. “You got very angry in regards to the Gold Star father,” he told Strzok. “That shows me that it’s innately a part of you and a bias.”
In these and other exchanges, Strzok defended country, law, and order, leaving Republicans to assail those values as biased. He reminded lawmakers that he had “spent 26 years putting on a gun, putting my life at risk for this country.” He reprimanded those who “tear down the underpinnings of … law and order” and who attack “the FBI or the U.S. intelligence community and compare them with Nazis.” He warned the committee that FBI agents, because of their belief in national defense and prosecuting crime, had been, “up until the current date, very strongly Republican.” These values, not partisanship, accounted for the priority Strzok had placed on the Russia investigation before the 2016 election. “The information we had, which was alleging a Russian offer of assistance to a member of the Trump campaign, was of extraordinary significance,” he testified. When Republicans challenged him about a text he’d written in May 2017, after Trump fired Comey—“We need to open the case,” Strzok had told Page—Strzok pointed out that the situation was obviously suspicious:
The president said initially that (the firing) had occurred because of a memorandum written by the deputy attorney general looking at his conduct in the Clinton investigation. And then, days afterwards, pivoting and telling Russian diplomats and Lester Holt that it was because of the Russia investigation and (that) a huge burden had been taken off his shoulders.
Strzok went after Congress, too. He accused lawmakers of using their oversight of the executive branch to attack the FBI for “doing its job.” Thursday’s hearing, he told them, was “another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemy’s campaign to tear America apart.”
Unable to break Strzok, his interrogators exploded. Several, having defended accused molesters such as Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, denounced Strzok as an adulterer. They hurled accusations at him and, as the hearing went on, refused to let him respond. “I don’t give a damn what you appreciate,” Gowdy told him. Rep. Tom Marino sputtered at Strzok: “You have an answer for everything.” Rep. Karen Handel fumed, “You have a really awesome talent for filibustering. You might want to think about running for the Senate.”
Perhaps he should. On a day when Trump exposed to the world his subservience to Putin, the United States needs a hero. It won’t be any of the collaborators or invertebrates in the congressional GOP. It won’t be Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer or House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who can barely mumble their objections. It’ll be someone with a record of integrity and national service who confronts the menace in the White House with clarity and courage. Someone like Pete Strzok.