Why the Strzok testimony isn't going anywhere

We already saw how Lisa Page handled the sticky situation of being subpoenaed to testify before Congress. She just refused to show up, though to be fair, her attorney says she will comply after they’ve had more time to prepare. Today we’re being treated to the opposite theory of handling such a request, as Page’s former paramour, Peter Strzok arrives to answer questions about their curious text messaging habits. He not only agreed to answer the subpoena but purposefully leaked his entire opening statement to the press ahead of time so the damage control teams can get to work. (Fox News)

A defiant Peter Strzok said the scrutiny he is facing over his anti-Trump text messages amounts to “just another victory notch in Putin’s belt,” according to the FBI official’s remarks prepared to be delivered before House committees Thursday morning.

Strzok, who is slated to testify in a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight Committee Thursday, has been in political crosshairs for months over revelations of anti-Trump text messages exchanged with his lover, and former bureau colleague, Lisa Page.

Strzok will say in his opening statement, obtained by the Associated Press, that he has never allowed personal opinions to affect his work, that he knew information during the campaign that had the potential to damage then-candidate Donald Trump but never contemplated leaking it to the press, and that recent congressional focus on him is misguided and plays into “our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”

If you’re expecting anything spectacular to come out of this testimony, allow me to spare you some angst by setting your expectations a bit lower. The tone demonstrated in Strzok’s opening comments really tells us everything we can expect to hear. It all boils down to the equivalent of, “How dare you, sir! How dare you impugn my professionalism and dedication to my country!”

And what do you expect him to say? Unless there is some hidden bombshell lurking out there, Strzok has essentially nothing to fear. Yes, he’s going to get hit with some tough questions about “what he meant” when he implied that Trump would be stopped, wouldn’t be elected president and that there were plans in place to prevent that. The thing is, while the text messages seem clear as could be and obvious to the casual observer, the witness has a rock-solid way out of this.

All Strzok has to say is that he was comforting his distraught girlfriend. As to what he meant, he could add that when he wrote We’ll stop it (regarding Trump becoming President) he was only speaking of “we” as in the American people who planned to vote for Hillary. The other comments can similarly be brushed aside as snark, humor, frustration or just generally “airing opinions” on the election like any other citizen. The WaPo ran a lengthy piece last month covering the excuses that both Page and Strzok have given thus far and there’s no reason to believe that he will deviate from those today.

And why would he? If you offer false testimony about where you purchased a particular pack of chewing gum, there’s always a risk you may be caught. A surprise witness may have seen you buying the gum elsewhere. Investigators may have retrieved a receipt for the gum out of your trash without your knowing it. But these are text messages, largely being shown out of context. It’s the same as a phone call. Unless some corroboration can be obtained from others who were privy to conversations between the two lovers (and where in the world they would find someone like that is a mystery) this is a case of Strzok declaring what his thought process was while texting his girlfriend.

No matter how implausible the explanations may be, all he has to do is stick to his story and not deviate. We don’t have any futuristic brain scanners yet that can print out his thinking at the time. And I’m sure Strzok and his attorneys know that full well. All he’s got to do is stay on script and declare his loyalty to the agency and the country. He’s very unlikely to be tripped up by this hearing.