Shouting, insults as FBI agent Strzok faces angry Republicans

Room erupts in anger and disbelief after Rep. Louie Gohmert asks FBI agent Peter Strzok about affair

In an explosive, hourslong congressional hearing Thursday, FBI agent Peter Strzok was defiant as Republicans unleashed blistering attacks, saying his anti-Trump sentiment - captured in personal text messages - is evidence of bias at the Justice Department.

Strzok was thrown off Mueller's Russian Federation investigation team because of his text messages, made on FBI time and on an FBI phone; but before Congress, he insisted that they were personal opinions only and had nothing to do with his work.

In one text exchange, Page wrote to Strzok about Trump: "He's not ever going to become president, right?"

At one point, Strzok refused to answer questions, citing a directive by Federal Bureau of Investigation attorneys, leading the chairman to threaten him with contempt of Congress. "No he won't. We'll stop it.' If by 'we" Strzok meant the FBI - which had opened its investigation into the Trump campaign's Russian Federation ties just over a week earlier - that poses the question of whether Strzok hoped to impact the election through his work".

Strzok said "based on that frightful, disgusting behavior", he assumed Trump would not win the election.

"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", Strzok told the committees.

Strzok's first open hearing descended into shouting matches during the 10-hour session on Thursday, with Republicans struggling to hide their emotions and Democrats jumping to the agent's defense.

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Congressional Republicans had taken a far sharper tone earlier this week when Page, on the advice of her lawyer, refused to appear before investigators despite a subpoena. "No he won't. We'll stop it".

Strzok later replied that he has "always told the truth". "It simply couldn't happen".

House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, who mixed it up with Strzok several times on Thursday, would not answer questions about Page or the Mueller indictment when he left the interview Friday.

At one point, Strzok said he didn't appreciate an assertion from Gowdy, who retorted, "I don't give a damn what you appreciate". "You've embarrassed them, you've embarrassed yourself, and I can't help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk - how many times did you look so innocently into your wife's eye and lie to her about Lisa Page?" Her lawyer said Page had not been allowed to review documents she needed to prepare.

"It felt like a public lynching", Dana Perino, a Fox News Host and a former White House press secretary under President George W Bush, said of the Republicans' interrogation of Strzok. One lawmaker said he was lying and another said he didn't believe him.

Representative Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in his opening statement that the hearing was necessary.

The Republican members succeeded only in turning Strzok into a Democratic hero and giving him a national audience for his emphatic denials of Republican allegations that his anti-Trump and pro-Clinton political allegiance influenced his investigations involving the two candidates.

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