Conservatives proceeded to cast one of those text messages as the smoking gun in its case against Strzok in particular, and the FBI investigation into Trump, in general: In response to a message from Page expressing horror at the thought of Trump's election, Strzok replied, "We'll stop it".
Page's lawyer claimed she "will cooperate with this investigation" even as Page defied the subpoena to appear on Wednesday before the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees.
Strzok again stated he could not answer and Goodlatte said the Committee would consider a contempt citation.
After a brief recess, Mr. Strzok said he was advised that he could answer the question.
"That is who we are as the FBI", Strzok said in an animated riff that drew Democratic applause. In a minutes-long retort, he called Gowdy's and his Republican allies' allegations of bias and improper actions "deeply destructive". "It was Republican Jason Chaffetz, former chairman of my committee". Jerry Nadler of NY. "I think not", Goodlatte said.
After a fierce line of questioning from Gowdy, Strzok was given the opportunity to contextualize his text with Page.
Leading Republican attacker Trey Gowdy cited Strzok's May 2017 texts speculating that the newly launched Mueller probe could lead to Trump's impeachment as proof that it was politically tainted from the start.
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"I am stating to you it is not my understanding that he kicked me off because of any bias that it was done based on the appearance", Strzok said. Furthermore, this isn't just me sitting here telling you. At every step, every investigative decision, there are multiple layers of people above me - the assistant director, executive assistant director, deputy director and director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - and multiple layers of people below me - section chiefs, supervisors, unit chiefs, case agents and analysts - all of whom were involved in all of these decisions.
"We'll stop it", Strzok texted Page in August 2016 - apparently referring to the prospect of Trump being elected president, according to a June report by the inspector general.
You need to understand that was written late at night, off the cuff, and it was in response to a series of events that included then-candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero, and my presumption based on that awful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect someone demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States. "Many contained expressions of concern for the security of our country-opinions that were not always expressed in terms I am proud of.But 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".
Peter Strzok gives his opening remarks.
Goodlatte told Alisyn Camerota on CNN's "New Day" Thursday morning that Page had agreed to an interview Friday.
Democrats argued that a witness such as Strzok would not be expected to publicly disclose sensitive information like the blueprint for a hydrogen bomb.
Strzok's point was that just because someone holds a political belief doesn't mean that they are biased.
But he denied that his personal political leanings had colored his professional judgment, as Republicans raised doubts about the integrity of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between Trump's election campaign and Russian Federation. Goodlatte stressed that it was the committee's practice and that there was an agreement to keep closed-door hearings private while an investigation is ongoing.