In a fiery exchange between Rep. Trey Gowdy and FBI agent Peter Strzok during a House committee hearing Thursday morning, the FBI agent claimed he was unbiased despite sending numerous text messages lambasting then-presidential candidate Donald Trump while leading investigations into Trump.
When Gowdy asked Strzok why he got kicked off the investigation into whether Trump colluded with Russian officials in order to steal the election from Hillary Clinton in 2016, the FBI agent repeatedly insisted that it wasn’t because he was biased against the president.
“It is not my understanding that [Robert Mueller] kicked me off because of any bias,” Strzok said. “It was done based on the appearance. If you want to represent what you said accurately, I’m happy to answer that question, but I don’t appreciate what was originally said being changed.”
“I don’t give a damn what you appreciate, agent Strzok,” Gowdy shot back. “I don’t appreciate having an F.B.I. agent with an unprecedented level of animus working on two major investigations during 2016.”
At the end of his time questioning Strzok, another congressman intervened to give the FBI agent time to respond — which is when things really started to get interesting.
Strzok said the text message he sent FBI lawyer Lisa Page promising to stop then-candidate Trump wasn’t about blocking Trump’s path to the Oval Office, but a reaction to Trump’s “horrible, disgusting behavior.”
“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page, with whom he was having an affair, wrote to Strzok on August 8, 2016. “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok replied.
Here’s what Strzok said on Thursday about the aforementioned texts, emphasis added:
Sir, I think it’s important, when you look at those texts, that you understand the context in which they were made and the things that were going on across America. In terms of the texts that ‘We will stop it,’ you need to understand that that was written late at night, off the cuff, and it was 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 of the United States. It was in no way, unequivocally, any suggestion that me, the F.B.I., would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate. So I take great offense and I take great disagreement to your assertion of what that was or wasn’t.
You can watch the entire livestream in the video below.