WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) – Yelling and chaos erupted at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday as Republican lawmakers challenged FBI agent Peter Strzok over his text message saying “well stop” the election of Donald Trump.
Strzok testified publicly for the first time since being removed from special counsel Robert Muellers team, telling lawmakers that texts he traded with FBI lawyer Lisa Page in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election reflected personal views that he never once acted on.
The interaction with Page fueled GOP suspicions of partisan bias over the course of the 2016 election and Hillary Clinton email investigation.
“At no time, in any of those texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” Strzok said.
Strzok also said he had been advised not to answer specific questions about the on-going investigation into Russian election interference. That set off a testy back and forth between Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York and Republican Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia:
Goodlatte: “Mr. Strzok, please be advised that you can either comply with the committees directive to answer the question, or refuse to do so. The latter of which will place you at risk of a contempt citation and potential criminal liability. Do you understand that?”
Nadler: “Point of order Mr. Chairman.”
Goodlatte: “The question is directed at the witness.”
Nadler: “I have a point of order before he answers the question.”
Goodlatte: “The point of order is not well taken.”
Nadler: “You dont know what the point of order is, you cant say its not well taken.”
Goodlatte: “The point of order, the witness will answer the question.”
Nadler: “Mr. Chairman, I raise my point of order and I insist on it.”
The Justice Departments inspector general has criticized Strzok and Page for creating the appearance of impropriety through the texts. But the report said it found no evidence of political bias in the FBIs decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton.
Page, who has also been subpoenaed, is expected to speak to lawmakers at a private meeting Friday.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)