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House GOP questions FBI lawyer for second day

House GOP questions FBI lawyer for second day
© Anna Moneymaker

House Republicans grilled former FBI lawyer Lisa Page behind closed doors on Monday as they sought to make the case that bias influenced the bureau’s investigations of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US Republicans cancel airtime in swing Vegas district The Democratic Donald Trump is coming MORE.

It was the second day of a grueling interview for Page, whose emails and text messages with FBI agent Peter Strzok have been cited by GOP lawmakers as suggesting the FBI was biased against the Republican presidential candidate.

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Lawmakers from the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform committees remained mostly tight-lipped on the details of her testimony, though multiple Republicans praised her as cooperative and forthcoming.

“Lisa Page today and again on Friday demonstrated a transparency that we didn’t see from Peter Strzok,” said Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsFive takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Live coverage: Heitkamp faces Cramer in high-stakes North Dakota debate Trump changes tone on Saudi Arabia amid mounting pressure MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and one of the FBI’s and Justice Department’s fiercest critics.

Strzok’s public hearing on Thursday led to fireworks and personal attacks, with the FBI agent offering a loud defense of the FBI and Republicans attacking his credibility. Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHouse conservatives want ethics probe into Dems' handling of Kavanaugh allegations Hillicon Valley: State officials share tech privacy concerns with Sessions | Senator says election security bill won't pass before midterms | Instagram co-founders leave Facebook | Google chief to meet GOP lawmakers over bias claims Trump: 'Fake news media’ didn’t cover when Obama said '57 states' in 2008 MORE (R-Texas) at one point asked Strzok how many times he had looked into his wife’s eyes and lied about his relationship with Page, with whom he’d had an affair.

One Democrat on the panel responded by saying Gohmert needed to take his medication.

Meadows said there are no plans to ask Page to testify publicly but added that some of Page’s answers were interesting because they offered new information or contradicted other statements from witnesses.

Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHouse Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein Senate passes key cyber bill cementing cybersecurity agency at DHS Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns with election interference claim against China | FCC limits fees for 5G | Uber reaches 8M settlement over breach | Fox sells Sky stake to Comcast | House passes bills to fix cyber vulnerabilities MORE (R-Texas), a House Judiciary member, also pointed to differences in Page’s testimony.

“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks we have all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative,” Ratcliffe said.

Democratic Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiFour-year colleges aren’t the only tickets to the American Dream Trump, Obamas and Clintons among leaders mourning Aretha Franklin A new law just built a bridge over America’s skills gap MORE (Ill.), however, said he had not heard any contradictions.

Strzok’s testimony continued to reverberate, both on Capitol Hill and in Finland, where Trump criticized the FBI agent during his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Trump, speaking with Putin beside him in front of a global audience, criticized Strzok and the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election in stark terms.

“And if anybody watched Peter Strzok testify over the last couple of days, and I was in Brussels watching it, it was a disgrace to the FBI,” he said. “It was a disgrace to our country. And you would say, ‘That was a total witch hunt.’ ”

Trump’s remarks were widely criticized by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, though some in the GOP defended Trump for doubting Russia’s actions because of a corrosion in trust caused by Page and Strzok.

“We saw the downgrading of Hillary Clinton’s criminal activity, the words being changed on Peter Strzok’s own computer. So for the president to cast doubt is not unreasonable,” Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaMidterms in 2018 become most expensive in history Dems target small cluster of states in battle for House Painting of Trump with past GOP presidents hung up in White House MORE (R-Calif.) told reporters.

Strzok served on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s Russia probe before he was removed after an internal Justice Department watchdog uncovered his anti-Trump text messages.

A report from the department’s inspector general examining FBI conduct during the election found a text message where Strzok told Page “We’ll stop it” after being asked, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

The inspector general said Strzok displayed a “biased state of mind” during a key phase of the probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State, but that no decision made during the course of the investigation was affected by bias or improper influence.

Strzok repeatedly argued that personal political opinions did not inform his professional decisionmaking during the 2016 race.

“At no time, in any of these texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” Strzok said.

The “We’ll stop it” text, he said, was “written late at night, off the cuff and it was in response to a series of events that included then-candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero.”