Strzok says Trump's attacks on Gold Star family prompted texts

U.S. President Donald Trump with Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok faced off with House Republicans Thursday at a fiery and raucous hearing where he forcefully defended his actions in the Hillary Clinton email and Russian Federation investigations amid sharp attacks over the anti-Trump text messages he sent.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman presiding over the joint committee hearing, tried to force Strzok to answer the question from Gowdy regarding the number of witnesses interviewed as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into President Donald Trump's campaign last summer. Considering Democrats agree with his motivations, not to mention the way he classified Trump voters as uneducated, smelly and bigoted in text messages to his mistress, the cheers aren't surprising.

"The Judiciary Committee intends to initiate contempt proceedings on Friday, July 13, 2018, at 10:30 a.m.", Goodlatte and Gowdy wrote in their letter to Amy Jeffress, who is representing Page.

"How can the Rigged Witch Hunt proceed when it was started, influenced and worked on, for an extended period of time, by former FBI Agent/Lover Peter Strzok?".

In the prepared remarks, Strzok will admit that while his text message criticism was "blunt", it was not directed at one person or political party and included jabs not only at Donald Trump, but also at Hillary Clinton and Sen.

Strzok told lawmakers that he was overseen by bureaucratic layers of oversight that would have stopped him from meddling in the election, even if he had wanted to do so.

At another point during Thursday's hearing, Strzok said he believes it was the result of the outrage at the time over Trump's spat with Khizr Khan, whose son was killed during the Iraq War and who became a prominent critic of Trump. "But", he said, "the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind".

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Strzok appeared before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees Thursday, where he was grilled by lawmakers over anti-Trump text messages he sent to attorney Lisa Page.

At one point, Gowdy asked what the word "it" meant in Strzok's text. 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.

"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", Strzok testified.

Strzok replied that he was not under subpoena, but testifying voluntarily - and that he could not answer questions "related to the ongoing investigations being undertaken by the special counsel's office".

The sharp tone of Strzok's statement set the stage for a contentious hearing following hours of closed-door questioning last week.

Strzok and Page briefly faded from the spotlight until the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General released a report in June about its internal investigation into the FBI's handling of the Clinton investigation. But the report said it found no evidence of political bias in the FBI's decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton. "This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax". Page has since left the bureau.

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