Federal Bureau of Investigation agent's Trump texts sparked by 'horrible, disgusting behaviour'

Former FBI agent Peter Strzok to lawmakers: Anti-Trump texts didn’t “impact any official action”

Watch: Embattled FBI Agent Strzok tells Hill GOP its attacks help Putin sow chaos

In addition to his involvement in the Trump-Russia investigation from its early stages, Mr Strzok was also a key figure in the FBI review of Hillary Clinton's handling of classified material on her personal email server while she was secretary of state.

In his opening statement, Strzok acknowledged that while his text message criticism was "blunt", it wasn't directed at one person or party and included jabs not only at Trump but also at Clinton and Sen.

Strzok is testifying publicly on Capitol Hill for the first time since the release of a Justice Department inspector general report that heavily criticized his comments. "And I can't help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife's eye and lie to her about Lisa Page?". New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman said, "You need your medication!"

Strzok tried to respond, but Gohmert cut him off, insisting that he was not allowed to answer due to hearing rules that the witness could only respond if a representative asked a direct question.

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.

"What I can tell you is that text in no way suggested that I or the Federal Bureau of Investigation would take any action to influence the candidacy".

When Strzok declined to answer some questions on the Russian Federation probe, Goodlatte suggested Republicans might recess the hearing and hold him in contempt. Democrats objected and Goodlatte eventually let the hearing proceed. "I think not", Goodlatte said. Stzrok wasn't "contrite" about his texts, which do show bias against Trump, but House Republicans promised to uncover facts, he said, and in 10 hours, "no proof was offered that Strzok did something acting on bias".

The FBI portrait, painted in agonizing detail by headline-hunting congressional interrogators, was an ugly view of an institution that once enjoyed a reputation for political independence, honesty and integrity.

"My presumption, based on that frightful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be President of the United States", Strzok said.

"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", he said.

Plus, he said in an animated riff that drew Democratic applause, both the Clinton and Russian Federation investigations were handled by large teams that "would not tolerate any improper behaviour in me any more than I would tolerate it in them".

"To suggest we can parse down the shorthand like they're some contract for a auto is simply not consistent with my or most people's use of text messaging", Strzok said, practically yelling at Gowdy.

"I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there's no big there there", Strzok said in the text.

Page is testifying to congressional lawmakers in a closed-door session on Friday. Goodlatte blasted that decision on Wednesday, saying "none of her excuses hold water".

"This investigation is a political charade - a platform to elevate far-right conspiracy theories and undermine the special counsel's ongoing criminal investigation of the President and his campaign aides", Nadler and Cummings said in that statement.

Strzok has met with members of the House Judiciary Committee privately, but his hearing scheduled for Thursday is open. Democrats objected to Goodlatte's repeated attempts to get Strzok to answer. "You had the angry Republicans who didn't make the case that bias tainted the [Robert Mueller] probe, the high-dudgeon Democrats who have contempt for the other side".

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