FBI agent Peter Strzok will be on Capitol Hill tomorrow to meet with two House Committees. Politico reports that an open-session, like the one proposed Monday by President Trump, is expected to follow sometime soon:
Strzok — whose role in the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s email use and the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia was one focus of a recent Justice Department watchdog report — will meet with the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees. The interview will be held behind closed doors, but is set to be followed “soon” by a public hearing, according to a Judiciary Committee aide…
Strzok’s anti-Trump text messages, which were sent to an FBI colleague throughout 2016 and 2017, have become the centerpiece of Republican claims that the FBI’s Trump campaign probe was politically motivated. While the DOJ’s inspector general report concluded Strzok appeared to show willingness to use his official capacity to hurt Trump politically, it didn’t weigh in on whether his opinions affected the opening of the Trump-Russia investigation. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has indicated he is still reviewing Strzok’s role in the Russia investigation.
The IG’s report did conclude that there was no evidence political animus toward Trump affected any official FBI action taken during the Clinton investigation.
That summary is basically correct, but the IG report on the Clinton investigation was a bit less conclusive on one point: The nearly month-long delay between the time agents found emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop and the time the FBI actually did something to investigate those emails. The IG noted that various explanations were offered for this delay, but “we found these explanations to be unpersuasive justifications for not acting sooner.” So while there’s no specific evidence of bias, there’s also no other reasonable explanation for the delay.
So you can expect lots of questions about that delay as well as some questions about specific texts Strzok sent, such as, “We’ll stop it,” in reference to Trump’s election. Hopefully, the Republican House members will also ask Strzok what he knows about why that particular text was so difficult for the IG to recover from Strzok’s government phone.
Yesterday, President Trump tweeted that Strzok’s testimony should be on live television:
The hearing of Peter Strzok and the other hating frauds at the FBI & DOJ should be shown to the public on live television, not a closed door hearing that nobody will see. We should expose these people for what they are – there should be total transparency!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
It sounds as if that’s also going to happen sometime in the near future. I’m sure the goal here is to create soundbites which could be awkward for Democrats and possibly even for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. However, I doubt Strzok is going to say much beyond what he has already told the Inspector General about individual texts. Still, I look forward to his explanation of the “insurance policy” text, because the explanation leaked to various media outlets has never made much sense to me.
At the moment, things don’t look so good for Strzok. He has already lost his security clearance and his job may be next on the list. The Office of Professional Responsibility at the FBI is currently reviewing his behavior and could recommend his firing. Plus, as mentioned above, there’s still the forthcoming IG review of the Trump-Russia investigation in which he will also feature prominently. If nothing else, his credibility as an unbiased agent is shot. What’s left of his career may not be worth saving.