Peter Strzok, one of a few FBI agents in hot water over the handling of both the Clinton and Trump–Russia investigations, has volunteered to testify in Congress after the House judiciary committee chair announced on June 15 an intent to subpoena Strzok’s testimony.
“Special Agent Strzok, who has been fully cooperative with the Office of Inspector General, intends to voluntarily appear and testify before your committee and any other Congressional committee that invites him,” Strzok’s lawyer, Aitan Goelman, said in a June 16 letter to the committee chair, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
“He thinks that his position, character and actions have all been misrepresented and caricatured, and he wants an opportunity to remedy that,” Goelman told The Washington Post.
Strzok was blasted for sullying the FBI’s name, in a June 14 report by the Office of the Inspector General (IG), a Justice Department watchdog.
While he was the lead investigator on probes concerning both presidential frontrunners during the sensitive leadup to the 2016 election, Strzok had an affair with a colleague, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who was special counsel to then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
What more, the two used FBI-issued phones to conceal their affair and exchanged messages showing a strong bias against then-candidate Donald Trump, and for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“The damage caused by these employees’ actions extends far beyond the scope of the [Clinton] investigation and goes to the heart of the FBI’s reputation for neutral factfinding and political independence,” the report stated.
One message even suggested “that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact presidential candidate Trump’s electoral prospects,” the report said.
On Aug. 8, 2016, Page texted, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”
Strzok replied, “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
The text was only discovered thanks to the thoroughness of the IG investigation.
Congress had already been provided thousands of Page and Strzok messages, including those from Aug. 8. Page’s text from that day was included, but Strzok’s reply was missing. A Justice Department official speaking to The Daily Caller wasn’t sure why.
Strzok told the IG he was trying to reassure Page and didn’t act on the text. He said that if the FBI wanted to damage Trump, they would have released their findings from spying on the Trump campaign.
While the FBI officially refused to release those findings before the election, the findings were still leaked to media. However, the FBI didn’t find any direct links between the Trump campaign and the Russian meddling, as The New York Times reported based on the leaks about a week before the election.
“The IG Report totally destroys [former FBI Director] James Comey and all of his minions including the great lovers, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who started the disgraceful Witch Hunt against so many innocent people,” President Trump said in a June 16 tweet. “It will go down as a dark and dangerous period in American History!”
The IG Report totally destroys James Comey and all of his minions including the great lovers, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who started the disgraceful Witch Hunt against so many innocent people. It will go down as a dark and dangerous period in American History!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2018
Clinton was investigated for mishandling classified information by using a poorly secured private email server.
Comey exonerated Clinton on July 5, 2016, in a statement he drafted before interviewing Clinton and other key witnesses. The original draft of Comey’s exoneration was edited by Strzok to change a reference from Clinton’s being “grossly negligent,” a legal term with criminal ramifications, to “extremely careless.”
Strzok was also criticized for an Aug. 15, 2016, text to Page seemingly written after a meeting in McCabe’s office.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok texted. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
The message suggested Strzok wanted to prevent Trump from becoming president. Strzok denied that and told the IG the discussion was about whether to compromise sensitive sources and methods investigating the alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Strzok said he wanted to pursue it aggressively and “bring things to some sort of precipitative conclusion and understanding” just in case Trump would win.
In contrast, when the FBI found a new trove of Clinton emails on the laptop of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner in September 2016, Strzok didn’t consider it noteworthy and expected to wait until the end of the year or even the following year to look into it, he told the IG.
Strzok only pursued the emails after the District Attorney’s Office in New York realized the agent working the Weiner case was getting “agitated” and “might act out in some way” prompting the office to urge the matter with the Justice Department headquarters, the IG found.
When the FBI finally pursued a search warrant to get the emails, Strzok forwarded from his FBI account to his personal email a draft of the search warrant affidavit, “which contained information from the Weiner investigation that appears to have been under seal at the time,” the IG stated, adding in a footnote, “The [Office of Inspector General] previously notified the respective U.S. Attorney’s Offices about Strzok’s actions.”
Strzok later continued the Russia investigation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but was taken off the team after his texts with Page emerged.
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