Washington, July 13 Controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok testified in a congressional hearing that he had damaging information on US Prtesident Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential election that may have derailed his campaign and rejected accusations that he allowed his private political views bias his official actions.
The joint hearing before the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees Thursday became emotionally charged, and at times, highly personal, as bitter partisan arguments erupted.
Strzok was an investigator on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He also led the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
“This information had the potential to derail and quite possibly defeat Mr. Trump, but the thought of expressing that, or exposing that information never crossed my mind,” Strzok told lawmakers during a congressional hearing.
Strzok denied that the FBI was biased against then-candidate Trump and rejected that his actions in the Russia probe after the 2016 election had political motivations.
“Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” the FBI agent said during the contentious hearing in Congress.
“I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity,” Mr. Strzok said, continuing: “I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”
Strzok has been widely criticized for a text exchange he had during the electoral campaign with an FBI lawyer, who asked him if Trump would be president, to which the agent responded: “No, he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
The text exchange at issue was detailed in a recently-released Justice Department internal watchdog report, which revealed that on August 8, 2016, now ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page wrote in a text, Trump is “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” to which Strzok replied, “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
The official took part in the investigation regarding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official communications during her tenure as US Secretary of State and was involved in the Russia probe, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, although he was taken off the case after his text exchange was revealed.
Strzok’s case has been used by the president and many Republicans to discredit Mueller’s investigation on alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.