Career FBI agent Peter Strzok, hauled before two House committees to explain himself after texts in which he was critical of the future president, has been fired. Strzok led the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, and was relieved of that assignment by Robert Mueller, after the texts – which were exchanged with a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. He was apparently fired Friday by order of FBI Director David Bowdich.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman called last month’s hearing with Strzok a “kangaroo court.” And as Republican questioning of the FBI special agent became chaotic and hostile, with cross-talk and out-of-order objections, the hearing room erupted when Texas Republican Louie Gohmert played the ‘family values’ card by questioning Strzok’s credibility as a career agent because he’d had an affair. Watson Coleman shouted out to Gohmert, “Do you need your medication?” BWC’s closing words to Strzok himself in July was an indictment of the FBI for not going public with the fact that possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia was being already being investigated before the 2016 election:
“If anybody should be pissed at the FBI – because you all helped this unfit man become president of the United States by not revealing to the people that he was under investigation in his campaign – it should be me. They should be applauding you, kissing you, and giving you all awards. Because but for you, we would have had a legitimate president elected.” – BWC
The entire thing, a joint hearing by the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, was carried live on C-SPAN. Watson Coleman, who sits on Oversight, also called out her committee chair Republican Trey Gowdy, after he criticized Strzok for mentioning impeachment while the Mueller investigation was ongoing. Gowdy spent more than two years investigating Hillary Clinton just before her 2016 run for president, and turned up nothing whatsoever to pin on Clinton. The investigation and hearings were a partisan mess, with heavy criticism by Democratic members, who refused to sign on to the investigation report. Watson Coleman to Gowdy on his handling of the Strzok hearing:
“If you can’t control yourself, how do you expect this committee to control itself,” Watson Coleman told Gowdy. “You’ve been out of control since you’ve been on this committee. Why don’t you leave it alone. This is not Benghazi.”
Strzok’s attorney says an investigation and Strzok’s testimony before Congress “failed to produce a shred of evidence that [Strzok’s] personal views ever affected his work.” And that firing him does not follow the FBI’s normal course of disciplinary action, which called for a demotion and 60-day suspension.