President Donald Trump called for “total transparency” in the congressional oversight hearings featuring Peter Strzok, the biased FBI official who vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president in 2016.
“The hearing of Peter Strzok and the other hating frauds at the FBI & DOJ should be shown to the public on live television, not a closed door hearing that nobody will see,” Trump wrote on Twitter on June 26. “We should expose these people for what they are—there should be total transparency!”
The House judiciary committee issued a subpoena to Strzok on June 22, demanding that he appear for a deposition on June 27. The committee did not issue a public notice for the interview, but committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) wrote on Twitter that lawmakers will interview Strzok before a public hearing is held.
“Peter Strzok will be interviewed first in a closed door deposition,” the committee stated on its Twitter account. “There will be classified information to sort through before a public hearing is held. A public hearing will be held!”
Strzok played a key role in both the Clinton email investigation and the counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign during the politically sensitive period leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Strzok continued to investigate the Trump campaign after the election and went on to join special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
A 17-month investigation by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz determined that Strzok had expressed bias again Trump and wanted Clinton to win the election. Horowitz found that messages Strzok exchanged with FBI attorney Lisa Page showed a willingness to convert his bias against Trump to action.
The bias expressed by Strzok and Page, in addition to that of three other FBI employees involved in the Clinton email probe, cast a cloud over the investigation, Horowitz concluded in the 500-page report.
“Moreover, the damage caused by their actions extends far beyond the scope of the Midyear investigation and goes to the heart of the FBI’s reputation for neutral factfinding and political independence,” the report states.
The inspector general determined, however, that there is no evidence that the bias impacted key investigative and prosecutorial decisions.
Mueller removed Strzok from the special counsel team after learning of the text messages with Page in July last year. Strzok was initially transferred to the human resources department. Shortly after the inspector general’s report was released on June 14, Strzok was escorted out of FBI headquarters. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on June 21 that Strzok no longer has a security clearance.
Page left Mueller’s team before the special counsel was made aware of her biased text messages. She resigned from the FBI in early May.
The duo exchanged thousands of text messages, some of which were only recovered through several rounds of forensic work by the inspector general.
“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page wrote to Strzok in a message on Aug. 8, 2016.
“No. No he won’t,” Strzok replied. “We’ll stop it.”
In another set of messages, the pair discussed an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely” event that Trump would win. In another text, Strzok told Page that Clinton would win “100,000,000 to 1.”
Conservative commentators and Trump allies believe that Strzok, whether wittingly or not, was at the center of a larger conspiracy to prevent Trump from becoming president and to hamstring his administration if he won.
“The most profound question of our era: Was there a conspiracy in the Obama Department of Justice and the FBI to prevent Donald Trump from becoming President of the U.S., and was Strzok at the core of the conspiracy?” Trump wrote on Twitter on June 26, quoting Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano.
Strzok is scheduled for a closed-door deposition by the House judiciary committee on June 27. The committee chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), said on June 26 that the interview is necessary to sort through classified information, and that a public session will soon follow. Trump called for public hearings for Strzok and “other hating FBI frauds.”
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