Tensions were high Thursday as FBI Agent Peter Strzok testified before the House Oversight Committee regarding his actions during the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
Strzok faced particular scrutiny from House Republicans who saw his controversial text messages to FBI lawyer Lisa Page as evidence of bias against President Donald Trump.
One of the most heated exchanges occurred when House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) repeatedly insisted that it was bias that led to Strzok’s removal from the investigation by Mueller.
Strzok passionately disagreed, assuring that neither he nor any other FBI agent on the investigation allowed personal opinions to inform any of their actions, maintaining that Special Counsel Mueller only removed him due to the possible appearance of bias. Strzok took Gowdy to task for insinuating that the FBI would ever let personal opinions affect its investigations.
Watch the impassioned exchange below:
The suggestion of improper political action from the FBI "deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission; and it is deeply destructive," FBI agent Peter Strzok says in a heated exchange https://t.co/n8WzNrmK3Z pic.twitter.com/CTTbele0yh
— CNN (@CNN) July 12, 2018
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee accused Gowdy of badgering Strzok. Nonetheless, Strzok’s reply was just as forceful and Americans across Twitter were grateful for it.
This was an epic response, especially given under the enormously unprofessional badgering Strzok was subjected to by Gowdy. Strzok spoke from the heart and head, with clarity and conviction, which is easy to do when you have truth on your side. https://t.co/Oj3LL7sVgB
— Anonymous White House Official (@littledeekay) July 12, 2018
Trey Gowdy, being schooled by FBI Agent Strzok, who explains the context for his now-infamous text about stopping Trump’s election was his belief the American people wouldn’t elect Trump after he ridiculed an immigrant gold star military family. pic.twitter.com/QUJfPDNQEC
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) July 12, 2018
I am in awe of Peter Strzok. The strength of character, that level of professionalism – that *genuine* patriotism – is shaming the GOP House Committee. And the GOP across the board.
What a relief to finally see a loyal American in that chamber.
— Judy Ellis (@JudyWhaleCove) July 12, 2018
The texts Gowdy and other House Republicans repeatedly referred to were exchanged in March of 2016. Strzok referred to then-candidate Donald Trump as a “loathsome human” and an “idiot,” in addition to other expressions of aversion toward the president.
Strzok repeatedly insisted that the presence of personal opinions, especially those of an FBI agent, do not indicate that biased actions were taken:
My presumption, based on that horrible, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be President of the United States. It was in no way, unequivocally, any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process, for any candidate.
Representative Gowdy’s exchange with Strzok was only one exchange in an especially discordant and often chaotic hearing.