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Peter Strzok Declares FBI Scandal Hearing a Victory for Vladimir Putin

Former bureau counterintelligence agent opens highly anticipated public testimony with a blunt slur against House Republicans

Peter Strzok declared his public testimony before a joint hearing Thursday of the House Judiciary Committee and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform “just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemy’s campaign to tear America apart.”

The former FBI counterintelligence agent said, “We are living in a political era in which insults and insinuations often drown out honesty and integrity, but the honest truth is Russian interference in our election constitutes a grave attack on our democracy.”

“Most disturbingly is it has been wildly successful in sowing discord in our nation and shaking faith in our institutions. I have the utmost respect for Congress’ oversight role, but I strongly believe today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America part.” Vladimir Putin is, of course, the president of Russia.

Strzok’s public testimony followed a grueling 11-hour closed-door session June 27 before the two House panels. Strzok is one of the central actors in the bruising scandal, which exploded in the wake of the FBI’s controversial investigations of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official government business and of allegations that aides to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russian interests.

Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page exchanged thousands of text messages expressing deep distrust of and prejudice against Trump before, during and after the 2016 campaign. Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has called the messages illustrations of “textbook bias” that would delegitimize any official conclusions based in part on them.

Related: Strzok Hides Behind National Security Cover, Mum to Most Key Questions

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been leading the investigation into the Russia collusion allegations. Mueller fired Strzok from his role in the investigation when he became aware of his text messages with Page.

Page did not comply with a congressional subpoena directing her to appear for questioning on Wednesday. Amy Jeffress, her lawyer, claimed they needed more time to prepare while asking that the hearing be rescheduled to another date. She also blamed the FBI for not providing all the documents they needed. Page left the bureau this past May.

Gowdy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) responded with a letter the same day stating that she will face contempt proceedings if she continues not to comply with the subpoena.

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Connor D. Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected].