GOP chairman calls out Democrats in opening statement of Strzok hearing

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Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen found himself in hot-water Thursday among America's fearless service men and women; bizarrely saying anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok deserves a Purple Heart over his escalating scandal.

Robert Mueller is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 USA presidential election and the Trump campaign's possible involvement.

"Agent Strzok had Hillary Clinton winning the White House before he finished investigating her", said Rep. Trey Gowdy, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

But in defending himself and his agency, Strzok had to weather hours of attacks by Republicans, whose accusations drifted from personal animus toward President Donald Trump to blatant lying and moral misconduct with a senior Federal Bureau of Investigation lawyer, Lisa Page.

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The texts have generated a furor as Republicans have focused on them as evidence of bias against President Trump by a key member of the team leading the investigations into the ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, as well as Hillary Clinton's private email server.

Ultimately Strzok responded to a question from Gowdy about the early portion of the Russian Federation investigation by defending his own work and the work of the FBI. Goodlatte said he could speak to his personal counsel, but not the FBI's.

Strzok angrily responded, saying the "we'll stop it" text came in response to campaign occurrences such as Trump insulting the immigrant father of a fallen USA soldier.

"The more information we acquire, the more interviews we conduct, and the more sources we contact, the more we learn", he said.

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The video sparked widespread outrage on July 9. "I am appalled, shocked & disturbed by the officer's behavior", Rossello tweeted . Just a few meters outside the pavilion, an officer stood with his hands tucked in his belt, watching the encounter.

"In terms of [that text], you need to understand that that 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", Strzok said.

"Mr. Chairman, may the witness be permitted to answer?!" one lawmaker shouted out in disgust. "That is why we're here and why this matter". This is nothing but a ruse to try to get to the Mueller investigation and make people think it's baseless, that it's biased.

Democrats loudly objected to Goodlatte's attempts to force Strzok to answer Gowdy's first question about how many witnesses were interviewed in the opening days of Russian Federation probe.

"We have indulged this harassment [for] nine minutes", Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a member of the House Oversight Committee, interjected at one point during Gowdy's questioning. Strzok responded that he had been advised by the FBI's lawyers not to address specifics of what is still an ongoing investigation - now the Mueller investigation. "We don't enjoy finding compelling evidence that the FBI Director had predetermined the outcome of the case months in advance", Goodlatte added. It is generally agreed that his text messages were problematic, regardless of if you think this reflects corruption and bias in all law enforcement or the Mueller probe. "My personal opinions in no way-" Strzok said, before he was interrupted.

But Horowitz concluded that the FBI did not allow any bias to impact its conclusions in the Clinton investigation.

"This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump", Strzok said.

In an interview with investigators with the Justice Department's Inspector General, Page said she was "totally appalled that the President would insult the father of a dead service member".

Her lawyer said Page had offered to voluntarily appear before the committees later this month but needed more clarification about what the lawmakers would be asking.