House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse GOP campaign arm raises .8 million in third quarter The Hill's 12:30 Report - The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations - 90-year-old 'Star Trek' actor describes space visit GOP leader's remarks on Fox underscore Trump's power MORE (R-La.) accused Democrats on Thursday of serving as "cheerleaders" for FBI agent Peter Strzok as he testified before two powerful House committees.
"I think it was embarrassing that the Democrats were trying to be cheerleaders for agent Strzok — trying to cover for him," Scalise said on Fox News's "The Daily Briefing."
"Throughout the hearing, they weren’t trying to get to the bottom and get to the facts that the American people want to know about this. They were trying to throw up any kind of roadblocks so that Strzok didn’t have to answer questions."
Stzok appeared under subpoena on Thursday before a joint session of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, where he was grilled by Republicans on inflammatory text messages he exchanged with a fellow FBI official in 2016 that were critical of then-candidate Donald Trump.
Strzok has faced intense criticism from Trump and his Republican allies for the text messages, which they have said confirm anti-Trump bias within the FBI and cast doubt on the agent's role in the early days of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
During Thursday's hearing, Strzok delivered a forceful defense of the FBI, saying that Trump's accusation of political bias among federal law enforcement officials "deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive."
That assertion drew applause from committee Democrats, who have accused Republicans of seeking to discredit the Russia investigation in order to protect Trump.
Strzok was removed from the team carrying out the Russia investigation in July 2017, after Mueller was made aware of his text messages.
The FBI agent rejected the suggestion on Thursday that he took official action in an effort to hurt Trump's presidential campaign and that bias played a role in his professional life.
"My presumption, based on that horrible, disgusting behavior, [was] that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States," Strzok said.
"It was in no way, unequivocally, any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate."