Will the man at the center of bias allegations in the FBI show up willingly to tell Congress about it? House Judiciary chair Bob Goodlatte had already begun the process of subpoenaing FBI agent Peter Strzok, but his attorney says there’s no need. Not only will the man who pledged in text messages to “stop” Trump show up voluntarily, he will pledge not to take the Fifth Amendment on any question Judiciary will throw at him:
Peter Strzok, who was singled out in a recent Justice Department inspector general report for the politically charged messages, would be willing to testify without immunity, and he would not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to any question, his attorney, Aitan Goelman, said in an interview Sunday. Strzok has become a special target of President Trump, who has used the texts to question the Russia investigation.
Goelman said Strzok “wants the chance to clear his name and tell his story.”
“He thinks that his position, character and actions have all been misrepresented and caricatured, and he wants an opportunity to remedy that,” the lawyer said.
For one thing, Goelman says Strzok wants to express his regret for his internal communications. Strzok also wants to insist publicly that it had nothing to do with his decisions on the investigation:
He said there was “no question” that Strzok regrets sending anti-Trump messages, but added: “I think what he was doing is expressing his political opinions in what he thought was a private text conversation, and he regrets that this has been weaponized by people with political motivations to try to discredit the Mueller investigation.”
But Strzok essentially wants to make the case that Michael Horowitz’s report suggested that he wanted to make through the investigation:
Goelman said that Strzok was not willing to use his official position to affect Trump’s chances of being elected and that “his political conviction that a Trump presidency would be disastrous for American national security is not based on his bias, it was based on information that was available to him, and his perspective on American national security.”
Er … isn’t that going to be an admission of bias? And doesn’t that play directly into the idea that the now-infamous Strzok “we’ll stop it” text was meant literally? Allahpundit posed the question after the release of the report that clearly concerned Horowitz as well. If an FBI agent saw a political candidate as “disastrous for national security” and had an opportunity to damage him through an FBI investigation he was leading, how could such an investigation possibly not involve bias? How does “we’ll stop it” become a benign expression of political frustration in that circumstance?
It’s true that FBI agents are entitled to their opinions, political and otherwise. What they can’t do is express them in terms of action within investigations. The “we’ll stop it” wasn’t a one-off release of anger; the text messages between Strzok, Lisa Page, and three other agents show a lengthy series of political observations mixed in with discussions of ongoing investigations. Horowitz wasn’t a political actor looking to “weaponize” anything; his report clearly shows that Horowitz has no confidence that Strzok and others were able to separate their politics from their work, and that is a very reasonable conclusion, especially with the curiously delayed release of the “we’ll stop it” text.
Strzok really wants a second bite of that apple, at least according to his attorney. Having failed to stop Trump through his investigations, he now wants to use the House Judiciary Committee as a political springboard to raise accusations that his own investigation apparently couldn’t prove or substantiate. Robert Mueller might want to step in at some point to prevent that from happening, as it may well drive a stake through the heart of his own probe by having Strzok demonstrate precisely what Trump has been saying all along — that the basis of the Russia-collusion theory was little more than political animus against him personally, and that anything collected by Strzok has been permanently poisoned by that animus.