Former federal prosecutor Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) ridiculed FBI agent Peter Strzok’s claim on Thursday that his many crudely expressed views about President Donald Trump had no influence whatsoever on his job performance.
“You’re asking us to believe that when you say things like ‘f*** Trump,’ and ‘stop Trump’ and ‘impeach Trump,’ that those are just personal beliefs and that when you said those things you never crossed that line, that bright and infallible line, and allowed it to impact your official conduct,” said Ratcliffe. “That’s what it really comes down to, that you’re asking us to believe.”
Undaunted, Strzok (pictured above center) insisted his personal beliefs didn’t impact how he approached investigations. Ratcliffe then asked him whether he used a government cellphone to send the roughly 50,000 texts.
Strzok admitted he did indeed use a government cellphone when sending those texts.
“When you said that you never crossed that bright infallible line, what you really meant to say is except for 50,000 times, except for hundreds of times a day where I went back and forth, expressing my personal opinion about f***ing Trump and stopping Trump and impeaching Trump on official FBI, on official FBI time,” Ratcliffe said. “Other than that, you never crossed that line.”
Ratcliffe also expressed concern over texts sent out in May 2017 when former FBI Director James Comey was fired from his position. The two cryptically texted that they need to open a case they’ve been waiting on while Andrew McCabe was still deputy director. Ratcliffe added that investigations shouldn’t depend on who is director or political considerations.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has been leading the investigation, which is looking at whether Trump or his associates colluded with Russian interests during the campaign. Strzok jumped onto the probe from an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
The House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee launched a joint investigation last year into decisions made by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI in 2016. Congressional Republicans have requested and subpoenaed hundreds of thousands of documents and have been fighting with the agencies for documents related to the special counsel probe and the email investigation.
Democrats on the two committees in the hearing have asserted repeatedly that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz discounted any influence of Strzok’s intense anti-Trump prejudice on the investigations in which he participated.
Congressional Republicans have subpoenaed hundreds of thousands of documents and have been fighting with the agencies for documents related to the special counsel probe and the email investigation.
But in his opening statement to Congress about his recent report, Horowitz said, “As detailed in our report, we found that the inappropriate political messages cast a cloud over the [Clinton email investigation], sowed doubt about the credibility of the FBI’s handling of it, and impacted the reputation of the FBI.”
He also said, “Moreover, we found the implication that senior FBI employees would be willing to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects to be deeply troubling and antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice.”