Update: The hearing has begun...
Things are already heating up at the Strzok hearing, where Democratic and Republican Congressman have devolved into shouting at one another after Peter Strzok refused to answer a question from Rep. Trey Gowdy.
Goodlatte insisted that Strzok must answer since he is appearing under subpoena. Strzok replied that he was instructed by FBI attorneys not to answer questions about an ongoing investigation (Gowdy had asked Strzok how many people he interviewed during the summer of 2016 in connection with the nascent Trump probe).
Strzok hearing has devolved into shouting match between Democrats and Chairman Goodlatte. Nadler trying to adjourn the hearing, as R's criticize Strzok for not answering questions. Strzok says he's been instructed by FBI counsel not to answer.— Ben Siegel (@benyc) July 12, 2018
Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler interrupted him, saying Strzok had a right to refuse questions about an ongoing probe according to an arcane rule in the attorney's handbook. Lawmakers then erupted into cross-shouting as Nadler and other Democrats insisted that Strzok had a right to refuse to answer, then insisted that he had a right to consult with an FBI attorney. The whole time, Goodlatte insisted his colleagues were "out of order" and denied their "point of order" objections.
At one point, Strzok said he had a right to refuse questions because he believes he's appearing voluntarily and isn't under subpoena. Nadler tried to call the hearing to adjourn.
As of 11:15 am ET, it continues, with Gowdy ripping into the witness about the contents of his texts, which he reportedly sent before the investigation had begun in earnest.
"You are the lead investigator, you originated the investigation, you are the point of contact, you drafted the document, & here you are before you interviewed a single solitary witness saying 'F Trump,'" Gowdy said.
Strzok has insisted that he was not let go from the Mueller probe because of "bias" but because of "appearances" and that he at no time was biased in his investigation.
In the crossfire, a motion has been called by Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell to subpoena Steve Bannon to answer questions that he had previously refused to answer. Several Democrats pointed out that Bannon refused to answer questions when he was appearing under subpoena, and it somehow got wrapped up in the debate, which has now continued for nearly a half hour.
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- *GOODLATTE: STRZOK, OTHERS TURNED SYSTEM OF JUSTICE ON ITS HEAD
- *PETER STRZOK BEGINS TESTIMONY ON TEXT MESSAGES AT HOUSE HEARING
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Despite President Trump hearing rumors that the "FBI loverbirds" were getting cold feet, FBI agent Peter Strzok is finally appearing to publicly testify before the House Judiciary Committee. The hearing begins at 10 am ET.
Strzok, who has been accused of committing "treason" by Trump, is expected to be grilled about his anti-Trump text messages sent to his then-mistress, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, during the 2016 campaign. In one text message, Strzok told Page they would "stop" Trump from becoming president. After the text messages came to light, Strzok was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, and reportedly put on desk duty.
Watch the testimony live below:
In a report released earlier this year, the DOJ's inspector general found no "documentary of testimonial evidence" to suggest that political bias impacted the investigation, though Trump has repeatedly pointed out that the details of the IG investigation seem to contradict the conclusion. Lawyers for Page said Thursday that she would also comply with the subpoenas.
According to his prepared testimony, Strzok will blame everything on, who else: Vladimir Putin: "today's hearing is just another victory notch in Putin's belt and another milestone in our enemies' campaign to tear America apart."
Here are some other excerpts:
"In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign."
"This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind."
Strzok: "Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took."
The reporting on those remarks has raised some interesting questions.
Gee, I wonder which reporters Strzok and his FBI mistress leaked to while they were running a DNC operation disguised as an FBI counterintelligence investigation. pic.twitter.com/XEoJxbVAkH— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 12, 2018
In a letter, Strzok's attorney reportedly said his client may not be able to answer some questions about the Russia probe because he and his client were unable to get a meeting with the FBI and the Hill to discuss which topics would be off limits. Meanwhile, House Democrats are calling on House Republicans to release Strzok's closed-door testimony, and have released some statistics about the questions that Strzok was asked.