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THE SITUATION ROOM

Peter Strzok Testifies Before Congress. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 12, 2018 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:01]

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), LOUISIANA: So, the question is, with all of the talent on this committee on both sides, my Republican colleagues, my Democratic colleagues, we have spent far too much time today on a red herring that is designed to do exactly what I'm afraid it's doing, which is distracting from the real issues that we're dealing with in this country.

And, unfortunately, with the media and our 24-hour news cycle, American people are going to hear this over and over and actually think that this is a real, substantive hearing, when it's not.

And I just think it's very unfortunate, because people in America have some real problems they're dealing with, how to find their children, how to keep a roof over their head, clothes on their back, food on the table, care for an ailing parent. And we're in here wasting time.

And with that, I will just yield the balance of my time.

If there's anything that you think you need to add or that you were cut off and not had the time to add to this discussion, I will give the balance of my time to Mr. Strzok to do that.

PETER STRZOK, FBI AGENT: Sir, I appreciate that offer.

Yes, I'm struck, listening to your statements, and I know the history of the FBI. I certainly want the FBI to be something that you immediately leap to the defense of. And I think that's something we're working very hard to become. But, again, I appreciate the offer and thank you.

RICHMOND: And when it comes to the FBI, I also asked years ago to have a hearing on the fact that they -- we don't know or track how many crimes are committed by FBI informants. We haven't had that hearing.

But we spent time on Fast and Furious because we were putting guns, introducing guns into the hands of criminals. But every day, the FBI and law enforcement with snitches and confidential informants allow people to deal drugs in the African-American community that cooperate with the FBI.

We still have not had that hearing. So, all I'm asking for is, let's at least keep our eye on things that are affecting all of our communities. And this just isn't one of them. And the unfortunate part is, I think, you know, we have been unable to

keep tunnel vision on the things that are important. And we have allowed ourselves to get distracted by something that the investigation will, at the end of its day, the thing will speak for itself.

And whether there was collusion, whether people broke the law, we will find out. But we do know one thing, that there's been indictments and there have been guilty pleas. And in my experience, guilty plea don't plea guilty very often.

And when you have indictments that say the United States of America vs...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman has expired.

RICHMOND: ... X, Y and Z, then we know that, where there's smoke, there's fire. And we ought to allow the process to play out.

With that, I'll surrender the remainder of my time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman has expired.

The gentleman from Florida Mr. Ross is recognized for five minutes.

REP. DENNIS ROSS (R), FLORIDA: Thank you, Chairman.

Mr. Strzok, I thank you for being here. I know it's been a long day. And this is the last place you want to be. But you're the reason we're here and actions by you are the reason we're here.

And I know that my colleague from Pennsylvania, Representative Marino, had shown you this handbook on ethics for on- and off-duty conduct issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Principle nine of the 14 principles espoused in there say that employees shall protect and conserve federal property and shall not use it for other than authorized activities.

And as my colleague on the other side of the aisle from the District of Columbia, Congressman Norton, pointed out -- quote -- "Anything that was on your official phone belongs to the public."

Would you not agree?

STRZOK: I don't it's funded by the public. It is in the service of the public. I know that it necessarily makes...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSS: And it is federal property.

STRZOK: Yes.

ROSS: And according to principle nine should not be used for anything other than authorized activities. That being said, did you use any other federal property for any reason

other for anybody but federal activities?

STRZOK: I would tell you FBI policy allows the use of phones for personal de minimis use.

And FBI text messages are...

(CROSSTALK)

STRZOK: Well, it's one big bucket, sir. FBI agents can send 100 billion texts or one text, and they would get billed the same.

ROSS: But you have testified today that what you texted was considered political free speech. Your opinions were political free speech.

And do you feel that your use of a federally authorized, federally owned cell phone protects your right of exercising your political free speech?

STRZOK: Sir, look...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSS: Yes or no?

STRZOK: I think it was bad judgment. I think it was terrible judgment.

(CROSSTALK)

[18:05:02]

ROSS: Let's say you took a federal car.

STRZOK: I believe it's protected speech.

The same way the protected speech would be then if you used your federal vehicle and put a Hillary Clinton bumper sticker on it? Why not?

(CROSSTALK)

STRZOK: No, sir, that's -- because if you read the ethics guidelines, sir, that is...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSS: Yes, sir, read the ethics guidelines. And that's what I'm doing.

STRZOK: May I answer your question?

ROSS: Please. STRZOK: That the use of or display of any bumper sticker -- but, believe me, after this started, I have been through the ethics guidelines up, down, left and right, and the Hatch Act.

Placing a political bumper sticker on a car is -- on a bureau government car, any government car, is expressly prohibited.

To the contrary, expression, publicly or privately, of personal political belief is encouraged.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSS: And you can use that on any federal property?

(CROSSTALK)

STRZOK: And I would encourage you, sir, to read the details of that policy guide before you start quoting it out of context.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Allow to answer the question, Mr. Chairman.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The witness did answer the question.

The gentleman from Florida controls the time.

ROSS: The FBI ethics integrity program policy, FBI code of conduct states that employees shall conduct their personal activities in manner that does not impede their professional performance or tarnish the reputation of the FBI. Do you agree with that?

STRZOK: I do.

ROSS: And you have blamed today the media. You have blamed the Washington community. You have blamed the president. You have blamed everybody. And you say it's just not you.

So, my question is, do you believe in any way that your personal texts that were done on federal property have in any way tarnished the reputation of the FBI?

STRZOK: Sir, I don't think I have blamed anybody here at all today.

ROSS: Have your...

STRZOK: Sir, I take responsibility for sending those texts.

Those texts have caused -- as I have said...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSS: I agree you. You said that earlier, but have...

(CROSSTALK)

STRZOK: ... an immense amount of damage and have hurt the reputation of the FBI.

ROSS: Has this tarnished the reputation of the FBI? Has it tarnished the reputation of the FBI?

STRZOK: Yes, sir.

ROSS: It has, hasn't it?

STRZOK: Yes.

ROSS: And to take it even further, on page four of the ethics handbook, it states...

STRZOK: Sir, while you're looking for that reference, I would tell you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time is controlled by the gentleman from Florida.

ROSS: The State Department has defined notoriously disgraceful conduct as conduct which, were it to become widely known, would embarrass, discredit, or subject to opprobrium the perpetrator of the -- and the United States.

My concern is, is that we have seen little or no remorse here, other than saying, I wish I had never sent those texts out because I hurt my family.

But, in fact, as an elected member of Congress, I have an obligation entrusted to me by my people to make sure that we maintain the quality of trust in our government. And after today, after what we've seen today, I understand why the federal government has such a low level of trust from the American people.

My question to you is, having been there, having now been here, how do we reinstate that trust to the American people? How do we make sure this never happens again?

STRZOK: Sir, I would -- a couple answers to several things you said.

First, I don't think the American people has lost faith and confidence in the FBI at all. What the FBI does day in day out, you're wrong, sir.

I know. I have spoken to agents in 56 field offices. And I know the work they do day in, day out. And whatever is convenient to say here on some news clip is absolutely not what exists.

Second, sir, I would tell you, yes, I -- and I don't know where you're saying I don't have remorse or somehow I'm not sorry. I have said -- and I will tell you again, sir -- knowing that I have said that...

(CROSSTALK) ROSS: It's not a question of bias. It's a question of credibility.

STRZOK: Sir, if I may respond your question, I am deeply regretful for those texts.

I wrote them. I know it. I know what has been done with them.

At the same time, I will tell you, sir, the FBI...

ROSS: It has tarnished the FBI.

STRZOK: ... allowed -- there is an expectation that those texts are private.

The bureau allows me or any FBI employee to text my priest, to text my doctor.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman has expired.

(CROSSTALK)

STRZOK: ... necessary expectation that those are not going to be made public.

I had no idea that this was going to happen. And, darn, if I knew, I never would have done it, for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

The time of the gentleman has expired.

The chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Lieu, for five minutes.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Let me start by saying, this is a stupid and ridiculous hearing, for at least two reasons. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over immigration. It is July 12, 2018. As we sit here today, there are nearly 3,000 babies and kids who have been ripped away from their parents by the Trump administration, and we're not doing a hearing on that.

We're doing a hearing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails in 2016. That's just dumb.

Second, before this hearing today, my Republican colleagues could not point to a single act that you took, Agent Strzok, in an official capacity that showed bias in any of these official investigations.

Now, more than eight hours later, they still can't point to a single official act you took that showed bias in these investigations.

There's a famous book I read called "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Based on today's circus, I hope more members on this committee read that book.

[18:10:00]

But there's one thing all of us are taught in kindergarten, which is that actions speak louder than words.

Now, your words show that you did not like Donald Trump. You used the F-Word when referring to Donald Trump. You wanted Donald Trump to lose.

And the one thing you could have done to cause him to lose is to disclose the Russia investigation in July of 2016. Did you do that, sir?

STRZOK: I did not.

LIEU: Did you disclose the investigation in August 2016?

STRZOK: No.

LIEU: September of 2016?

STRZOK: No.

LIEU: October of 2016?

STRZOK: No.

LIEU: November of 2016.

STRZOK: No.

LIEU: What you did is what we expect every FBI agent to do, which is to check their personal beliefs at the door and do your job.

And that's what you did. You also showed, by your words, that you wanted Hillary Clinton to win. But yet the I.G. investigation found that you advocated for more aggressive investigative measures into the Clinton investigation, including the use of grand jury subpoenas and search warrants to obtain evidence.

Is that true?

STRZOK: Yes.

LIEU: And, again, you did that because you check your political beliefs sat the door. And when you did your duty as an FBI agent, you applied the law to the facts. That's we expect you to do. That's what we expect prosecutors to do. That's we expect judges to do.

I'm a former prosecutor. There were defendants I despised. There were defendants I sort of was OK with. But it didn't matter. All that mattered was, could we prove a charge beyond a reasonable doubt? If we could, we went forward. If we couldn't, we did not go forward.

And that's what we expect everybody to do. Now, there's been some allegations by one of my colleagues today about political donations. Now, that might show bias.

So, let's talk about FBI Director Christopher Wray. He is a Republican, nominated by a Republican president, confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate. I'm going to ask you to accept, for purposes of this question, the following fact, that he gave over $39,000 in political donations exclusively to Republican candidates.

I still trust FBI Director Wray to do his job, because I expect him to check his personal beliefs at the door and do his job when he's on duty.

Do you still trust FBI Director Christopher Wray?

STRZOK: Implicitly, yes.

LIEU: The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, made political contributions to the Alabama Republican Party.

I still trust if there's a case involving a Democrat or Republican or independent or someone who voted for Jill Stein, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could look at the facts and law and apply it and do it in a fair and unbiased manner.

Do you still trust Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do that, even though he made political contributions to the Alabama Republican Party?

STRZOK: I don't know him in nearly the same capacity that I know the director, but he has taken oath as the attorney general, and I trust him to discharge that.

LIEU: Thank you.

And then let me conclude by saying this. We're going to know at some point what the Robert Mueller investigation found. We already know about the Hillary Clinton e-mails, because there has been exhaustive investigation into that, plus this I.G. report.

And what we're seeing now is an attack on law enforcement. When I was prosecuting cases, I know that when defendants don't have facts or evidence on their side, they resort to attacking law enforcement. That's what we see happening now.

And I just thought I would end on a quote from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said, basically, when you're attacking the FBI, you're losing.

I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Walker, for five minutes.

REP. MARK WALKER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Strzok, you have mentioned, I think, to my count, over 30 times about your personal beliefs when it comes to your texts, and that was your -- just your opinion. One of the texts, you said, "We will stop it," referencing the Trump campaign.

Mr. Strzok, that's not a personal belief text. That's a plan of action. Who's the we in that text?

STRZOK: Sir, I disagree. That's not a plan of action. The we, as I have stated -- and the reason I am stating it so many times is, I have been asked at least twice as many times -- the reason I said that -- I don't recall that text. When I look at the context of it, in the middle of the night, I can tell you I am certain it is not a suggestion that me or the FBI take any action, or that I can also, sir, assure you...

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: If I could reclaim my time, you answer the question that you don't recall it.

STRZOK: Under oath, there was no plan of action.

WALKER: Yes. Well, my eighth grade teacher, English teacher, Mrs. Painter (ph), used to teach me that stop was an action verb, so I believe it certainly sounds it.

Let me get away from just the content of text, as despicable as they were. Let's talk about the volume of texts, if we could, please, 50,000 texts over this time frame. Is that the number that you understand?

STRZOK: That is a number I have heard from the...

WALKER: Yes, several hundred pages, 10 to 12 -- 400 pages, 10 to 12, about 50,000 texts, which is amazing.

[18:15:02]

I'm hoping you -- the agency at least had the unlimited data plan, since it was a taxpayers' phone, because of the great amount of volume. And you even testified today under oath there's many more on your personal phone, which blows me away.

Sometimes, over 100 texts a day while you're supposed to be doing your job. In fact, on Friday, June the 10th, 2016, there were 73 exchanged texts. This is the same day that the FBI finally made a deal for Clinton's attorneys and laptops.

Did you leave your desk to send these 73-plus texts on that single day?

STRZOK: I do not recall where I was when I sent the texts.

WALKER: Well, I'm sure that you were...

(CROSSTALK)

STRZOK: Sir, I would say, sir, if you look at those texts, the huge majority of them are in fact related to work minutia and administrative things.

WALKER: There may be a lot, but there's a whole lot more.

Plus, I don't get to text with my families and friends sometimes until we finish our work in the day. Obviously, you had enough time during the day, being the second lead investigator, that you're supposed to be doing your work.

But here we find a lot of times -- 50,000 texts.

(CROSSTALK)

STRZOK: Sir, of which -- of which the bulk of the work...

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: James Comey has talked about how the midyear investigative team was the A-team, spending every waking moment to complete the investigation.

How does this statement square with the amount of time you seemed to spend texting Lisa text -- Lisa Page on working days?

STRZOK: Sir, the majority of those texts, the grand majority, were work-related matters. Of many, many things I have been accused of, some of which are true and horrible, one thing is not being -- one of them is being -- not being lazy.

So, I can assure you that those texts and what they represent is work and work that was going on frequently from 5:00 in the morning until 11:00 at night. So, I would encourage you, sir, if you want to read through the 50,000, and have somebody catalog what...

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: That's astronomically high. You're talking to 600 to 700 per week.

So, don't give me that this was all work-related texts.

STRZOK: They were not all work-related, but the vast majority were.

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: The other point I want to make here is that this is an integrity issue.

And that's part of the problem here. We have talked about the texts. And, no, you're right, they weren't all on official time. Like, making fun of Trump people at the Wal-Mart, you're right, some of those were in your spare time.

But I believe there is a credibility issue and that's probably one of the reasons that Mr. Mueller decided to take you off this particular case. I believe you cannot sit there and tell us, as you testified earlier today, you didn't know for sure why he did, but I believe it is pretty obvious to the American people that you have so discredited the FBI that you were removed from this case.

With that, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Jordan.

STRZOK: May I respond to the congressman?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time is controlled by the gentleman from Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Allow the gentleman to answer the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the conclusion of his time, the gentleman will be allowed to briefly answer anything that was left unanswered by Mr. Walker.

But Mr. Jordan now controls the time.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Agent Strzok, I just want to go back to where we right before the votes that we had to leave the committee.

STRZOK: Yes, sir.

JORDAN: You said -- when I was asking you about documents received by the FBI from Mr. Ohr, you said you didn't personally receive documents from Mr. Ohr, but the FBI did. Is that correct?

STRZOK: That's correct.

JORDAN: And you also said the FBI got documents from a different source in mid-September. Different source than whom?

STRZOK: Different source from Mr. Ohr. It was not Mr. Ohr who provided the initial documents that I became aware of in mid- September.

JORDAN: So, Mr. Ohr did not hand you the dossier?

STRZOK: That's -- Mr. Ohr didn't hand me anything.

JORDAN: FBI.

STRZOK: Mr. Ohr provided information to the FBI that included material that's what everybody is calling the dossier.

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: Say that again. Say that again. Mr. Ohr provided what?

STRZOK: He provided some elements of reporting that my understanding is originated from Mr. Steele.

JORDAN: So Bruce Ohr did give the FBI information relative to the dossier?

STRZOK: Yes. JORDAN: And another source also in mid-September gave you personally

information?

STRZOK: No.

JORDAN: You, the FBI, information relative to the dossier?

STRZOK: I never personally received dossier information.

JORDAN: I got that.

STRZOK: The FBI in mid-September, the first time I am aware of the FBI having that information, the first time I saw, it was in mid- September.

My understanding was that was -- that came into the FBI. That's when I became aware of it and when I first read it.

JORDAN: One more time. Just say it.

Bruce Ohr gave the FBI documents relating to and supporting or part of the dossier. Is that accurate?

STRZOK: Mr. Ohr gave the FBI documents which included material that I believe originated from Mr. Steele.

JORDAN: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman may briefly answer the question that the gentleman felt he didn't have an opportunity to answer with Mr. Walker.

STRZOK: Yes, sir. Thank you.

And I wanted to address, when you bring up an integrity issue -- and it's interesting, you and the gentleman from Texas raise this in a way that almost approaches -- it is insulting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman may answer the question.

(CROSSTALK)

STRZOK: What I'm saying, I am here under oath. I am not lying. I have never lied under oath. And I never will.

And so the insinuation -- not even the insinuation, the direct comment that somehow say you have an integrity issue is insulting. I take offense.

[18:20:07]

It is incorrect. Nothing I have said here today...

WALKER: I never mentioned your personal life. I just simply said the amount of time that you were spending on the taxpayers' dollar wasting it, when you were supposed to be doing your job texting back and forth...

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: ... is a problem.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the gentleman has already answered that question.

So, now the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin, is recognized for five minutes.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: So we have more than 2,500 kids in America who are separated from their families. No hearings from Judiciary or Oversight. We have thousands of people who have been slain in gun violence from Parkland to Las Vegas to San Bernardino County. No hearings on the universal background check favored by 97 percent of the people.

The president has plunged us into trade wars. He's insulting and taunting our democratic allies around the world. He's flattering autocrats and kleptocrats and dictators around the world, and he has done nothing to stop another round of cyber-sabotage of our elections coming in 2018.

But our colleagues don't want to do hearings on any of the chaos that has been set loose in the land. No, Mr. Strzok, the GOP wants to talk about your personal texts, two or three out of more than 50,000 that we have seen.

And the purpose, of course, is to derail and discredit the investigation by the special counsel that's obtained 19 indictments and five criminal convictions of people like Flynn and Gates and Papadopoulos and so on.

And when their names come up, you will notice that our colleagues maintain a discreet and demure silence on the other side of the aisle. But they're outspoken about this. They say, Mr. Strzok, that you're at the heart of a deep state conspiracy to oppose Donald Trump.

To make this claim, they have got to ignore the fact that you were an equal opportunity insulter of politicians. You had choice negative words for Democrats and independents, like Bernie Sanders, who you called an idiot, like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Martin O'Malley, who you called a freak show. That's not very nice.

But, hey, there's a First Amendment here in America. And you can still insult government officials without being thrown into jail or held in contempt of Congress, at least by our side of the aisle.

There are no kings here. And we have freedom of speech, the right that is cherished by the people and feared only by tyrants.

But my colleagues have insisted on making a conspiracy theory out of your pillow talk texts. But there are a couple facts they can't get around. Number one, the I.G. found no partisan bias affecting the official investigation.

Number two, Attorney General Sessions is a Republican appointed by Donald Trump. Rod Rosenstein is a Republican appointed by Donald Trump. James Comey is a Republican appointed by Donald Trump. FBI Director Wray is a Republican appointed by Donald Trump, and Robert Mueller is a lifelong Republican.

So, this would have to be a Republican conspiracy. So, I am looking for evidence of a Republican conspiracy, and all I could find were the kind of statements that you have been arraigned on today.

So, I want to ask about those statements. In the spring of 2016, Senator Ted Cruz called Donald Trump a -- quote -- "sniveling coward, a pathological liar, and a serial philanderer."

Was this attack on Trump by Senator Ted Cruz a coordinated part of a deep state conspiracy that you organized?

STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: On April 8 -- August 8, 2016, Senator Marco Rubio said Donald Trump was -- quote -- "unworthy of being our president." Was this attack part of a deep state conspiracy that you organized?

STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: In October of 2016, Speaker Paul Ryan said, "I am not going to defend Donald Trump, not now, not in the future."

Was this fleeting outburst of moral courage part of a deep state conspiracy that you organized?

STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Donald Trump a moron. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he is an empty vessel when it comes to the Constitution.

Steve Bannon said he is like an 11-year-old child. General H.R. McMaster referred to Donald Trump reportedly as a dope and an idiot with the intelligence of a kindergartner. Karl Rove called him a complete idiot. Representative Duncan Hunter said, "He is an A-hole, but he's our A-hole."

And the director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, reportedly sent out an e-mail describing Trump as an idiot surrounded by clowns.

Were all of these vituperative, negative characterizations of Donald Trump part of a deep state GOP conspiracy engineered by you and your friends?

STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: Were any of these statements part of a conspiracy you organized? STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: Now, although this conspiracy does appear to be overwhelmingly Republican, if it exists, balance compels me to ask you about my hero, Bruce Springsteen.

Unlike the others, who are all Republicans, Springsteen is a Democrat. And he said, "The republic is under siege by a moron."

Did you tell him to say that?

STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: Was it part of a deep state conspiracy to criticize the president?

STRZOK: No.

RASKIN: Mr. Strzok, this hearing has been a circus and a kangaroo court run in banana Republican fashion. And I believe that some of my colleagues have disgraced themselves today in their attack on the FBI and the justice system of America.

[18:25:10]

How can we recover from the hole that's been dug here today?

STRZOK: Sir, America is strong.

I have -- however bad I think I have seen it in my life, I am confident that the institutions, the American people will endure and be great.

I have full faith in the United States and all of the men and women, and I -- even in times of trial and tribulation, I have every confidence that we will emerge as great as we have ever been and that we will...

RASKIN: Well, I'm with you. And thank you for your service to America.

STRZOK: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida Mr. Gaetz, for five minutes.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

You have said repeatedly today that you were not biased, but Bob Mueller kicked you off his team as a consequence of your bias, didn't he?

STRZOK: Sir, I wouldn't agree with that characterization.

I think I answered earlier my understanding was that -- and, again, there were no words spoken about this, but it was the potential appearance that he wanted to avoid, as much as anything else.

GAETZ: So, did Bob Mueller say, I am not firing you from this time from your bias, I'm getting rid of you...

STRZOK: He did not.

GAETZ: So, what is your basis for the belief that it is the appearance of your bias, rather than your actual bias, that resulted in Mueller removing you?

STRZOK: Because I think his experience, both with me, my work and the reputation of others about me and my work, that he knows that I am an individual who follows the facts where they lay.

(CROSSTALK)

GAETZ: So, your testimony today, that you were removed not for bias, but for the appearance of bias, is based on your perception of Robert Mueller's perception of you?

STRZOK: No, sir. I am saying what would I think the logical case.

If you want to know what his reasons were, you would need to ask him.

(CROSSTALK)

GAETZ: Let me ask it simply, Mr. Strzok. Did Robert Mueller ever ask you if you were biased against Donald Trump?

STRZOK: He did not.

GAETZ: So, he didn't ask you when he hired you?

STRZOK: No. That question is not typically a question that get asked during hiring meetings in the U.S. government, to my experience.

GAETZ: Gosh. One would seemingly think that if you were hiring someone to investigate something, you might ask. But certainly then when you were removed, was it clear to you that Mr. Mueller was aware of these incendiary text messages?

STRZOK: Yes.

GAETZ: So he knew of the text messages, but never asked you whether you were biased or not?

STRZOK: That's correct.

GAETZ: Your girlfriend texted you on the 8th of August: "Trump is not ever going to be president, right? Right?" Do you recall your reply?

STRZOK: I do recall my reply. And if I hadn't, it has been refreshed in my recollection no less than four or five times today, sir. But, yes, I recall my reply.

GAETZ: And what was it? STRZOK: I'm sure you have it. I don't want to misstate it by -- but, essentially, no, no, he's not, we will stop it.

GAETZ: Did Bob Mueller ever ask you about that text message?

STRZOK: He did not.

GAETZ: About a week later, on August 15, you sent a text message regarding a meeting in Andy McCabe's office. Is that right?

STRZOK: I don't know the date. I do believe I know the text message that you're going to...

GAETZ: Did Bob Mueller ever ask you what happened in the meeting in Andrew McCabe's office?

STRZOK: There are many meetings that I attended -- and not many -- but several meetings with...

(CROSSTALK)

GAETZ: Did Bob Mueller ask you about any of them?

STRZOK: He did not.

GAETZ: Did Bob Mueller ask you what you meant by an insurance policy?

STRZOK: Director Mueller did not.

GAETZ: On the 26th of July, this is contemporaneous with the opening of the Trump-Russia investigation, your girlfriend texts you, "Clinton just has to win now."

And you reply a few days later: "And, damn, this feels momentous because this matters. The other one did too, but that was ensure we didn't F something up. This matters because this matters. So super glad to be on this voyage with you."

Did Bob Mueller ask you why this matters?

STRZOK: If you're asking why it mattered, it was comparison between a case about...

(CROSSTALK)

GAETZ: No, I'm not asking -- no, no, no, I'm sorry, Mr. Strzok.

(CROSSTALK)

GAETZ: I have seen you do this, where you answer questions that were not asked. But that is not what I'm asking you.

I want to know if Bob Mueller asked you about this text message.

STRZOK: Director Mueller didn't ask me about any text message, Congressman. GAETZ: Well, gosh. Just days after Mueller is appointed, in two text

messages, one on the 19th of May and one on the 22nd of May, you reference impeachment.

Did Bob Mueller ask you why you were referencing impeachment?

STRZOK: Congressman, as I just stated, Director Mueller did not ask me about any text message.

GAETZ: Well, I find that very interesting, that Bob Mueller has to remove you as a consequence of bias. Now, you don't say it is bias. You say that, based on your perception of Bob Mueller's perception of you, it couldn't possibly be your bias. It has to be the appearance of bias.

But when we get into actually the manifestation of that bias through your words, Bob Mueller doesn't ask you about a single one of them. And so then I look at other people that Bob Mueller picked on his team, people like Lisa Page. I'm very curious to know whether or not he asked her about any of her incendiary text messages.

I mean, but -- but -- throughout the team, you have got people working for Bob Mueller who have active connections to Hillary Clinton. You know, Greg Anders donated to the Clinton campaign. Kyle Freeny donated to the Clinton campaign. Andrew Goldstein donated to the Clinton campaign. Elizabeth Prigelar (ph) donated to the Clinton campaign. James Corals (Ph) donated to the Clinton campaign.

Jeanie Ree (ph) represented Ben Rhodes during the Benghazi investigation. He -- she represented the Clinton Foundation against Freedom of Information Act requests. Andrew Weissmann, the No. 2 for Mueller, attended Hillary Clinton's election-night party. Andrew -- Aaron Zelby (ph) represented Justin Cooper, who was the person who set up Hillary Clinton's private e-mail surger [SIC} -- server. And then there's you and Ms. Page.

And it's just really interesting to me that when you were so damaging to the investigation that you had to go, that Bob Mueller, the person who brought in all these people that had connections to Hillary Clinton's campaign, did not ask you about a single text message. And I tend to believe, Mr. Chairman, that it's because he did not want to know the answer and that there was bias, and that your perception of Bob Mueller's perception of you is totally unreliable. And I yield back.

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Time time of the gentleman has expired. The chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Florida, Ms. Demings for five minutes.

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D), FLORIDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Strzok, let me JUST clear this up right now. I am not angry, and I am not desperate, and I am not afraid of the truth, but I am in pursuit of it.

First of all, I want to thank you for your service to our country through the Federal Bureau of Investigations and for your service to our country through the United States Army.

Mr. Chairman, each of us, as members of Congress, took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. My oath as a member of Congress was not the first oath I took. It was the third oath. For I served as a law enforcement officer for 27 years. And like the employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Department of Justice, I swore to protect this country and to remember: uphold the rule of law.

We have now wasted countless hours of our very limited and precious time chasing these phantoms, wasting both the witness's time and our own. The inspector general's report must have been a very big disappointment to the president and to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

Let me say this. Law enforcement officers -- and you said it earlier, Mr. Strzok -- not only do they have political opinions, but they are encouraged to have them. And as the chief of police, I encouraged them to have them and express them. Perhaps -- but their expression never interfered with their ability to conduct their job.

Perhaps Congress could learn something from members of the law enforcement community, because my colleagues on the other side of the aisle allow political bias to influence their judgment every day, and perhaps they should read, and all members of Congress should read, the ethics manual for Congress.

The I.G. report said, and I quote, "We found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations," unquote.

President Trump's and his enablers' conspiracy theory about the Department of Justice and the FBI have been investigated. And after hours today, they have still been debunked. The president's own campaign manager is currently sitting in jail, awaiting trial on multiple charges. And there is enough evidence, as we've already seen, that resulted in five guilty pleas.

The truth hurts, but no matter how you hate it and no matter how much it hurts, it's not going away. That's the real story here. And we need to keep our eyes on the ball and not chase ghosts through the halls of the Department of Justice while letting the important work of both of these committees go undone.

[18:35:13] But since we're here, Mr. Strzok, I want to get your reaction to the president's tweet on December 3, 2017: "After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation, running the FBI, his reputation in tatters, worse in history." There he goes. It's always the biggest, always the worst. "But fear not, we will bring it back."

Mr. Strzok, do you agree that the FBI's reputation is in tatters and is the worst in history?

PETER STRZOK, FBI AGENT: Not at all.

DEMINGS: Do you agree with the characterization that the Clinton investigation was phony and dishonest?

STRZOK: No.

DEMINGS: Were you the sole decisionmaker on this case?

STRZOK: No.

DEMINGS: In your opinion, what kind of impact do statements like this, because I do care about how it infects the law enforcement community, apparently my friends on the other side of the aisle -- I never thought as a law enforcement officer I'd ever have to defend the Department of Justice from my Republican colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

What kind of effect do statements like this have on the morale of the good men and women who do a tough job every day?

STRZOK: Congresswoman, I think they have a significant impact on the morale of the men and women of the FBI. I would tell you that, regardless of what is going on swirling around them, that my experience, the agents and analysts and others that I work with are focused on the job and their mission.

So there's a lot swirling around. And agents tune that out and focus and do their job. But inevitably, the kind of perception and the things that are being said are heard and are damaging, because people know they're simply not true. So they're not helpful, but I have every faith and confidence in the FBI, in the agents of the FBI and in what we do every single day.

DEMINGS: Thank you so much.

GOODLATTE: The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

DEMINGS: I know. I yield back.

GOODLATTE: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Hice, for five minutes.

REP. JODY HICE (R), GEORGIA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'd like to discuss a little bit the Weiner laptop discovery. You have explained there was a significant delay from the time that information was discovered in which, obviously, hundreds of thousands of e-mails, by your own words, hundreds of thousands of e-mails were discovered, potentially pertinent to the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.

There was a delay there, and you have explained in the past that the delay was caused simply because you were too busy. What were you doing during October of 2016 that caused you to be so busy?

STRZOK: Sir, I wouldn't call it a significant delay. I don't think it was caused because I was too busy. The answer to your question, in the fall of 2016, I was a deputy assistant director of the counterintelligence division. I had responsibilities over global -- HICE: You explained that you were -- yes, but what were you busy doing?

STRZOK: I was trying to explain what I was doing. I was busy overseeing thousands of cases. Every espionage case in the FBI, every economic espionage case in the FBI. Every case having to do with --

HICE: Were you involved --

STRZOK: Sir, you asked a question. May I answer it?

HICE: And I'm going to reclaim my time. Were you involved in the Russia investigation at that time, as well?

STRZOK: That was -- aspects of that were one of the many things that were under my --

HICE: So you were involved with it. Inspector General Horowitz expressed concern that so many individuals from the Clinton investigation mid-year team were assigned to the Russian investigation, people like you. Who made that decision for people from the mid-year team to go to the Russian investigation?

STRZOK: Sir, I was deputy assistant director of the counterintelligence division. I'm the No. 2. If there's something large going on in C.I., chances are, I'm going to have a role in it. So it isn't --

HICE: My question is who made the decision?

STRZOK: -- an agent on the street working the case, but the decision to assign me was certainly made absolutely by my boss, the assistant director, and probably above him the EAD.

HICE: OK. How many other -- how many other people went to the Russian case?

STRZOK: Sir, I can't get into the specific numbers. I can tell you of the senior managers, several of the senior managers were involved. But this is one of the points I disagree with the inspector general, is he doesn't appreciate the staffing in the context of the level of the people involved in those cases.

HICE: Did anyone in the FBI or DOJ question the overlap of personnel between the two cases?

STRZOK: Not that I'm aware of.

HICE: So no one questioned it.

At the end of October, you were finally brought to the point to pursue the laptop information and to make it public, days before the election. Did your involvement at that time with the Russian election interference cease when the Clinton e-mail case was reopened?

STRZOK: No. HICE: OK. So you continued working on the Russian case while also

leading the reopened Hillary Clinton case?

[18:40:04] STRZOK: A colleague of mine, a co-lead, and I were bringing the team back together. Again --

HICE: Just the month before --

STRZOK: Sir -- sir, if I may, because it's important. I think people have a misunderstanding. At that time, I'm a deputy assistant director.

HICE: All right. Listen, my time is limited.

STRZOK: When you talk about the case, you have multiple layers of people, though, below that are doing that work.

HICE: I understand that. But a month before, you told the I.G. that your Russia workload prevented you from addressing the issue on the laptop discovery. And now all of a sudden you have time for both. According to the I.G. report --

STRZOK: That's not what I said, sir. That's not what I said, sir.

HICE: So days before the election you're investigating two key investigations, and a time lapse of nearly a month goes by where there are hundreds of thousands of e-mails directly related to the e-mail of Hillary Clinton and her campaign, ignored until days before the election. And only when the New York group demands -- well, let me ask you this. Were any of your superiors concerned of the overlap, that time was -- water was going under the bridge?

STRZOK: My -- no. My recollection is that all of us were concerned about the volume of material that we had on our plates from a national security perspective.

HICE: Well, Andrew McCabe said that he was surprised that you had not reviewed the laptop before October 30 --

STRZOK: That's inaccurate. You're misrepresenting.

HICE: This is my time. This was in the I.G. report.

STRZOK: You're misrepresenting what's stated in the I.G. report.

HICE: I'm using the I.G. report. McCabe said he was surprised that you had not reviewed the laptop information. James Baker, general counsel, said he -- it was his understanding that that information was being handled. James Comey felt that the entire credibility of the bureau rested on that case.

And what gets me -- how is it possible that you could handle both of these cases, perhaps two of the most important cases in the history of this country, at least in recent history? How in the name of justice does the FBI allow someone so biased as yourself to lead these two investigations at the same time, where both end up being compromised, both tainted, justice apparently not happening in either case?

You deliberately, from all appearance, delayed the -- checking into the Hillary Clinton e-mails on the Weiner laptop until after the election, or as close thereof. And it's just corruption through and through.

And Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

STRZOK: Mr. Chairman, may I respond?

GOODLATTE: Briefly, since it wasn't posed to you as a question.

STRZOK: Sir, briefly, nothing was compromised in those investigations. There are a team of folks above and below me that were involved. I was the No. 2 in the counterintelligence division. If it was important, I had a role in the oversight of that. There were people below me -- senior executive service members, unit chiefs, supervisory agents; in the field office, ASACs, supervisors, case agents -- all who were working on this.

To the aspect -- there are many things that you said about the I.G.'s report that were, if not -- they were absolutely misrepresentations. The response and the facts, if you look at them within the report, is that within hours of hearing from New York that there was potential material that was relevant, I had assigned subordinate supervisors, attorneys and others to look into it, which they, in turn, did within hours.

As a result, less than a day after finding out about it, I set into motion a team who had nothing to do with the Russia investigations to pursue that investigation. They came back and said, "New York's still working on it." And my assumption from there was that they, having assigned that task --

HICE: It's your representation of the I.G. report that's inaccurate.

GOODLATTE: The time of the gentleman has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Gosar, for five minutes.

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R), ARIZONA: Mr. Strzok, are you familiar with the FBI Domestic Investigation and Operations Guide, known as the D-I-O-G?

STRZOK: The DIOG, yes, sir.

GOSAR: Now, this is a policy manual that sets forth the rules you are to follow in deciding to pursue an investigation, correct?

STRZOK: Yes, sir.

GOSAR: And you agree that the D-I-O-G guidelines applied to your investigation of President Trump and the 2016 election, correct?

STRZOK: Yes, sir.

GOSAR: And the D-I-O-G policy 8.1 requires that "all FBI employees shall comply with policies," quote. Isn't that correct? STRZOK: Sir, I believe that's absolutely true. I don't know the site.

GOSAR: But you're aware of that?

STRZOK: Yes. Yes.

GOSAR: OK. Now, you no doubt are aware the DOJ also issues investigation guidance instructions, correct?

STRZOK: Yes.

GOSAR: Now, specifically, DOJ guidance dated March 9, 2012, states that federal -- federal, quote, "employees are entrusted with the authority to enforce the laws of the United States and with responsibility to do so in a neutral and impartial manner. This is particularly important in an election year," end of quote.

Are you aware of this guidance?

STRZOK: I am not, but I believe it and adhere to it, yes.

GOSAR: I just want to make sure because this is really important because Attorney General Holder issued these instructions to all federal law enforcement agencies to conduct their investigations in a neutral and impartial manner, particularly in an election year. So, once again, you're kind of familiar?

STRZOK: Sir, I don't recall that specific instruction, that focus on FBI policy. But that direction from the department, if it's in force, I readily accept.

GOSAR: So you understand why federal employees are supposed to be politically neutral, right?

STRZOK: Yes, yes.

GOSAR: Everything he says -- and your anti-Trump text statements are not politically neutral, correct?

STRZOK: I believe from the perspective of investigating in a politically neutral way, I did that every single day of my job.

GOSAR: Once again, your text statements are not politically neutral?

STRZOK: That's correct, yes.

GOSAR: And your investigation activities were in fact taking place in an election year, correct?

STRZOK: Yes.

GOSAR: You in fact stated that you intended to, quote, stop Trump from becoming president in a clear violation of the FBI DIOG and DOJ guidance. Wouldn't that be correct?

STRZOK: That's absolutely incorrect, sir.

GOSAR: No, that wouldn't, because that shows a strict bias and it's politically charged.

Let me give you a little better situation. Then candidate Trump made some comments on the travel ban, did he not?

STRZOK: I recall a variety of comments.

GOSAR: You've got a good memory. And it was used against him by all the lower courts, wasn't it?

STRZOK: Sir, my -- that is not my area of expertise at all.

GOSAR: You know very well. You understand this very well, sir.

So, it was used against him and upheld in all the lower courts until the Supreme Court. Guess what? Why is it different for him than you?

STRZOK: Sir --

GOSAR: There's no difference here. There's no difference.

STRZOK: Sir, I would argue --

GOSAR: The difference between him and you is you put it in black and white.

STRZOK: Sir, the difference between me and him -- and again, I'm not an attorney. You have somebody who's making --

GOSAR: He's not an attorney either.

STRZOK: Based on protected class in terms of the passage of a federal law which is wildly demonstrably different from an individual who's expressing a personal political belief. It is stunning that that difference would not be apparent to any outside observer.

GOSAR: You used your political belief in black and white in a text message. We've established that in my previous question running up to it. OK?

I have very little time here. You said about a bias, this morning I watched -- by the way, I'm a dentist. OK. So I read body language very, very well. And I watched your comment in actions with Mr. Gowdy. You got very angry in regards to the Gold Star father. That shows me that it's innately a part of you and a bias.

STRZOK: Sir, I disagree. I don't know if you're saying this experience is like being at the dentist, if that's what you're suggesting. But I would -- I would tell you, sir, what you see in my response is a genuine passion for the United States of America. What you see is a passion as a patriot. What you see --

GOSAR: I've got two more questions.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentleman from Arizona controls the time.

GOSAR: I've got two more questions for you. If you're in a jury box and somebody sees these text messages, you're removed from the jury box, are you not?

STRZOK: Sir, I can't --

GOSAR: You are. By the way, you are. By the way, you are.

And the last comment. This morning, you are a smart individual. We are not a democracy. We are a constitutional republic. That is why we have two ways, both from a democracy -- voting and then from where we have the -- Electoral College. So, make sure --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman has expired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regular order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Johnson, for five minutes.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R), LOUISIANA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Strzok, you've taken great offense today at questions about your credibility. But for many of us that's the real issue here. I think it is for the American people.

As we've been sitting here all day, I've been getting text messages from constituents back home and they're very concerned about this. This whole thing has been described as shameful and a train wreck. And it feels that way to many others.

Here's I've got I'm playing cleanup here, many of us will hear at the end. Let me ask you a smattering of questions.

Number one, here's what you and Ms. Page exchanged the night that Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination in late 2016.

You wrote -- or she wrote to you, holy blank, Cruz just dropped out of the race. It's going to be a Clinton-Trump race. Unbelievable. You responded, what?

She writes back. You heard right, my friend. Now, you said, now, the pressure really starts to finish NYE, which we know now the FBI code name for the Clinton e-mail investigation. She writes back in response, it sure does.

So, here's our problem. You two are the most influential FBI personnel on the Clinton investigation. And within hours of Donald Trump securing the Republican nomination, you text to her, OK, now, the pressure really begins. Now we really have to finish the Clinton investigation. And she agrees and says, it sure does.

Here's the question, why did you have to finish it up so fast? What were you referring to, why? Was it to stop President Trump?

STRZOK: Not at all. So, she -- she was not one of the two most influential people on the investigation. The purpose of that text was not at all having anything to do with candidate Trump or candidate Clinton. That had everything to do with Director Comey's sense of urgency to try and resolve the investigation as soon as we could to get the FBI and the investigation out of the presidential race.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: Were you slow walking it prior to that time?

STRZOK: Absolutely no. But there was a sense of urgency, and I think everybody on the team, everybody on the senior executive management of the FBI understood that the closer and closer and the longer and longer the investigation took, that we continued, thanks to the actions of some, including some of the candidates, to be inserted into as an issue in the presidential campaign.

JOHNSON: So, let me stop you because this is my time.

We're not supposed to associate this in any way with all of your many other volumes of text, all the negative, all the disparaging things you said about Donald Trump as a candidate, and the fact that you said, we'll stop it, to those things are not related in any way at all, right?

STRZOK: Congressman, I understand your concern and those of your constituents, but I'm telling you under oath is that that expression, what I just told you, it was a desire from the highest level of bureau throughout the team to get us out of the process of the general election.

JOHNSON: OK, let me move on. Did you ever find -- personally, did you ever find evidence of collusion or conspiracy as you said today between then candidate Trump and Russia?

STRZOK: Sir, I can't -- based on the direction of the FBI, I can't comment on the investigation.

JOHNSON: You said in your text of May 18th, 2017, you concluded, quote, there is no there there. What were you referring to?

STRZOK: Sir, I said, part of my concern is there might not be a there there. As I mentioned earlier, I think it's certainly at the beginning as we looked at the allegations, there were a wide range of potential things that were going on.

On one end, it was that there was nothing, that there was no illegal activity, there was absolutely no conspiracy to do anything, moving up to potentially individuals doing things illegally based on individual agendas and some of the things that might be in the worst case, in the worst case, things that might lead to impeachment.

But I was approaching that with a very open mind, not knowing where the facts lay or where they might lead and some of that saying, hey, there is a reasonable, there is a reasonable, realistic set of things which might indicate there's nothing going on here.

JOHNSON: OK, look, you said several times a day that every American has a political bias, but not every American has your level of responsibility that duty, the extraordinary level of responsibility that you had on behalf of the American people. And our entire system of justice depends upon equal and impartial justice of the law, don't you agree with that?

STRZOK: I absolutely agree on that.

JOHNSON: Look, you've spoken on lofty terms today about ethics and honesty and integrity, and yet by every objective measure, the public record of your actions belie those virtues, the inspector general's report concluded that your conduct demonstrated, quote, extremely poor judgment and a gross lack of professionalism.

Why should this committee, why should my constituents back home, why should the American people trust you as a credible witness?

STRZOK: Sir, I regret and am sorry for the way that those texts have cast my actions into question, and those of the FBI and the investigations. What I'm telling you, and what I would ask you to relay to your constituents is look at the facts. Beyond -- set aside the texts. Look at what the I.G. found, look at the actions, the actions that I took, the actions --

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: With all due respect, I'm out of time, hold on, with all due respect, we cannot separate the texts from that question, because the texts were written during the investigation while you were in charge of these investigations, while you're the most responsible and important person in the investigation, at many times, and we cannot separate your personal biases from the facts as they develop. That's our problem, and at the end of the day, that's what we're all concerned about even after all these hours of hearing --

STRZOK: What I would tell you, sir, look at the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time of the gentleman has expired. That was a statement, not a question.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, the gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr. Russell, is recognized for five minutes.

REP. STEVE RUSSELL (R), OKLAHOMA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Strzok, you stated today, quote, I do not think bias was expressed in those text messages, end quote.

[18:55:01] Inspector General Horowitz stated in his report that those derogatory texts were, quote, not only indicative of a biased state of mind, end quote, but were also, quote, antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice, end quote. He stated further that such actions implicated, quote, provisions in the FBI's offensive code and penalty guidelines and, quote, and referred information to the FBI for adjudication, which is still outstanding. You stated today, quote, at no time did personal beliefs enter into decisions I made, end quote.

Yet Mr. Horowitz's report stated, quote, in assessing Strzok's decision to prioritize the Russian investigation over following up on the mid-year related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop in October of 2016, these text messages led us to conclude that we did not have confidence that Strzok's decision was free from bias, end quote.

You stated today that culture training and policy prevent bias in the FBI. They would be noted and stopped. The Justice Department ethical guidelines state the following, quote, superiors may never send to subordinate employees an e-mail directed at the success or failure of a political party, partisan political group, or partisan candidate, end quote.

Another one, quote, expressed opinions about the candidates and issues, if the expression is political activity directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate, or partisan political office or partisan political group -- the expression is not permitted while the employee is on duty, end quote.

The FBI domestic investigations and operation guide in section 3.1, because we heard so much about the appearance of policies and what these things do, that's why it's important to quote them, and I quote in section 3.1. We who enforce the law must not merely obey it. We have an obligation to set a moral example that those whom we protect can follow. Because the FBI's success in accomplishing its mission is directly related to the supported cooperation of those we protect, these core values are the fiber that holds together the vitality of our institution, end quote.

Mr. Strzok, given the extramarital relationship and types of derogatory communication officially exchanged with FBI counsel Lisa Page as laid out in the I.G. report, did these actions exhibit a, quote, moral example that those whom the FBI protects can follow, end quote?

STRZOK: Sir, thanks for your question. I notice your CIB, and I want to thank you for your service.

RUSSELL: I've had decades of it myself.

STRZOK: Yes, sir. I would tell you I am not proud, I am ashamed --

RUSSELL: Did the policies guide your behavior for these actions?

STRZOK: Sir, for the bulk of my professional actions, every day of my life they did.

(CROSSTALK) RUSSELL: These actions had no bias, and yet we heard from Mr. Horowitz's I.G. report that they concluded that there was. And now we see an extramarital relationship and types of derogatory communications officially exchanged. That does appear to exhibit the actions that would exhibit a moral example for those whom the FBI protects.

Do you believe it does? Yes or no?

STRZOK: Sure, I would respond by saying I disagree profoundly with these --

(CROSSTALK)

RUSSELL: In section 3.1.1, and I quote, in general, the FBI requires employees to report known or suspected failures to adhere to the law, rules, or regulations by themselves or other employees to any supervisor in the employee's chain of command, end quote.

You knew your conduct was wrong, not only in the use of texts, the forwarding political e-mails, the forwarding of links, all of that is laid out --

STRZOK: None of that is wrong, sir.

RUSSELL: And also that the extramarital relationship could place you outside of what would be proper for an FBI agent.

So, my question is, did you make any attempt to report your conduct to the chain of command, yes or no?

STRZOK: Sir, my conduct --

(CROSSTALK)

RUSSELL: Did you make any attempt to report your conduct to the chain of command?

STRZOK: My conduct in the investigations was always, always --

RUSSELL: And we can see what that was. Thank you.

I'm reclaiming my time. And, Mr. Chairman, my closing remarks I address to you.

I don't have any further comment I need or any other questions to be answered. FBI agents are required to adhere to strict standards of conduct and exemplify the FBI's core competencies, including communication, respect, leadership and compassion, problem-solving, judgment. The I.G. found that the use of official devices to send messages intermixing work related discussions and political commentary demonstrated extremely poor judgment and gross lack of professionalism.

The powers of government are drawn from the people's consent.