There are times when you watch what's happening in American politics and come to believe you've fallen through the rabbit hole, to a place where everything is upside down.
For the first time in a public forum, FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok delivered an impassioned defense against claims from House Republicans that he held biases against candidate Donald Trump that affected his official agency decisions as he helped lead an investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian Federation. He was removed from the investigation in 2017 after those text messages with fellow FBI employee Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, were discovered.
"The proposition that that is going on and that might occur anywhere in the Federal Bureau of Investigation deeply corrodes what the Federal Bureau of Investigation is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive", Strzok added.
That set up perhaps the most pivotal moment of the ongoing hearing, as Mr Strzok attempted to defend his, and the FBI's, integrity and explained that the texts in questions came after Mr Trump insulted the Muslim parents of a slain USA soldier. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. "But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind", he said. We've been flooded with hate-Trump messages. But then it kept that investigation completely secret from the public, lest news of it affect the outcome of the investigation in any way.
Trump has regularly taken to Twitter to blast Strzok and Page.
In his most direct defense of the controversial texts, Strzok said he had written them "off-the-cuff" and that it was important to view them in the context of the heated election in 2016, during which Trump engaged in numerous outrageous, racially-charged feuds - including with the family of Muslim U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004.
The notion that Strzok can avoid the requirements of subpoena because he said he would appear voluntarily seems flimsy, if not frivolous.
Strzok said he could not answer a question about the early stages of the FBI investigation into Russian intervention because the probe is still ongoing and FBI counsel had instructed him not to. "At times my criticism was blunt, but despite how it has been characterized it was not limited to one person or one party".
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This, I think, is a smart tactic-playing defense would allow the Republicans to continue insinuating guilt, while going on the offensive against their inquisitors casts the accusations in their proper partisan light.
It's worth noting that Goodlatte's justification - that the committee's investigation is ongoing - was the same one Strzok offered for not answering questions about the special counsel's Russian Federation probe. Unsurprisingly, the hearing quickly devolved into a circus, with members yelling at each other, overlapping points of order, and a general sense of chaos.
Gohmert first accused Strzok of lying in previous testimony.
You need to understand 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 awful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect someone demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States.
"I have never seen my colleagues so out of control, so desperate.to defend a president who we all know is unfit", Watson Coleman said.
"Under oath, as I spoke also during my interview to you a week or two ago, I have always told the truth", Strzok began. You don't have to take my word for it.
"They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me anymore than I would tolerate it in them", he went on.