National Security

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 Trump and Hillary Clinton.

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.

{mosads}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 Meadows (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 Gohmert (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 Ratcliffe (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 Krishnamoorthi (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 Issa (R-Calif.) told reporters.

Strzok served on special counsel Robert Mueller’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.”

Tags Darrell Issa Donald Trump Hillary Clinton John Ratcliffe Louie Gohmert Mark Meadows Raja Krishnamoorthi Robert Mueller

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