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A joint hearing of two House committees Thursday repeatedly turned testy as FBI agent Peter Strzok sought to explain away text messages sharply critical of Donald Trump and how they did not affect the fairness of the FBI investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Strzok, reassigned but still an FBI employee, admitted “it’s fair to say I’m not a fan” of Trump. But he insisted that the Russia investigation is legitimate, contrary to Trump’s characterization of it.
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“In the summer of 2016, we had an urgent need to protect the integrity of an American presidential election from a hostile foreign power determined to weaken and divide the United States of America,” Strzok told lawmakers. “This investigation is not politically motivated. It is not a witch hunt. It is not a hoax.”
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Judiciary Committee held the joint hearing. The following are the big takeaways.
Hearing - Strzok
Throughout the hearing, Strzok continuously denied being biased.
“Having worked in national security for two decades and proudly served in the U.S. Army, those opinions were expressed out of deep patriotism and an unyielding belief in our great American democracy,” he said.
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“At times, my criticism was blunt, but despite how it’s been characterized, it was not limited to one person or to one party. I criticized various countries and politicians, including Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, Sen. [Bernie] Sanders, then-candidate Trump, and others,” he continued.
“Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” Strzok said.
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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., criticized Strzok’s narrow definition of bias, noting that special counsel Robert Mueller removed him from the investigative team.
“The moment special counsel Bob Mueller found out about...
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