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House Judiciary Committee subpoenas FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts

House Judiciary Committee subpoenas FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts
© Greg Nash

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteNo documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself USCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction MORE (R-Va.) issued a subpoena on Friday commanding FBI agent Peter Strzok to testify before the committee next week, despite Strzok's offer to testify voluntarily.

Strzok's testimony is scheduled to take place on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., according to a press release from the Judiciary Committee.

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"The Committees have repeatedly requested to interview Mr. Strzok regarding his role in certain decisions, but he has yet to appear," the statement said. The committee was referring to the joint investigation between the Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examining the FBI's conduct during the 2016 presidential election.

Strzok was one of two FBI officials removed from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia after it was revealed that he and his colleague, Lisa Page, had sent text messages that were highly critical of then-candidate Trump.

In a statement to The Hill on Friday, Strzok's lawyer Aitan Goelman wrote that his office found the committee's decision to subpoena Strzok regrettable.

"We regret that the Committee felt it necessary to issue a subpoena when we repeatedly informed them that Pete was willing to testify voluntarily."

Goelman wrote to Goodlatte days earlier, telling him that a subpoena was "wholly unnecessary" and that Strzok would comply voluntarily with the Judiciary panel's request for testimony. 

"While you are, of course, free to continue pursuing this process, it is wholly unnecessary," Goelman wrote in the letter. 

"Special Agent Strzok, who has been fully cooperative with the [Justice Department] Office of Inspector General, intends to voluntarily appear and testify before your committee and any other Congressional committee that invites him," he added. 

Committee member Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotDemocrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide Speaker Pelosi, House Democrats leave town, fail the American people MORE (R-Ohio) had said earlier on Friday that a subpoena would likely be "necessary" to compel Strzok to comply with the Judiciary panel. 

“It’s my understanding that Chairman Goodlatte will be subpoenaing him very soon,” Chabot said on Hill.TV’s "Rising." “Maybe a subpoena won’t be necessary, but it looks like it probably will.” 

In an interview with The Washington Post published Sunday, Goelman indicated that Strzok was willing to testify before Congress without immunity in an effort to clear his name. Goelman told the post that Strzok felt his "position, character and actions" had been maligned.

The former FBI agent and Page, with whom he had been romantically involved when the text messages were exchanged, were top targets of Republicans after the revelation that they had been removed from Mueller's investigation.

The text exchange was made public in a scathing report released earlier this month from the Justice Department's (DOJ) internal watchdog. The report, which examined FBI and DOJ conduct during the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBon Jovi to campaign with Biden in Pennsylvania The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Biden gets late boost with key union endorsement MORE's use of a private email server, set off a firestorm among Republicans who said the text messages between Strzok and Page were evidence of anti-Trump machinations at the FBI.

“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page asked in a text to Strzok in August 2016.

“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded, according to the report.

"FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who headed the Clinton & Russia investigations, texted to his lover Lisa Page, in the IG Report, that 'we’ll stop' candidate Trump from becoming President," the president tweeted after the texts were released to the media. "Doesn’t get any lower than that!"

Goelman said Tuesday that Strzok had been escorted out of the FBI amid an internal review of his conduct.

--Updated 6:48 p.m.