Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina pressed former FBI Director James Comey during a Friday closed-door hearing on the roles former FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, confirming they played an integral part in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Gowdy, the outgoing chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, first verified with Comey that Strzok was assigned to the Clinton investigation, the hearing transcript revealed.
The former FBI director confirmed he was and that he had interviewed witnesses and reviewed documents for the probe.
Comey went on to confirm Strzok and Page helped draft the public statement the then-bureau chief gave in early July 2016, which found Clinton and her associates “extremely careless” in the handling of classified information.
Comey stated that Strzok specifically helped “edit” the statement.
The director’s word choice of “extremely careless” caught the attention of many, because it appeared a clear effort to avoid the words “grossly negligent,” which would have implicated Clinton in a crime.
Comey said of Strzok and Page: “They each participated in some respect in that investigation or in our public statement about the investigation and things like that.”
Having confirmed these facts, Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, then ran through a litany of questions clearly meant to highlight the bias both the former FBI officials brought to the Clinton investigation.
The lawmaker pointed to texts by Page in the spring of 2016 in which she described then-presidential candidate Donald Trump as a “loathsome human” and proclaimed, “Trump simply cannot be president.”
Strzok wrote back, “Trump’s an idiot,” and, “Hillary should win 100 million to zero.”
Gowdy observed, “I guess an alternative reading of that would be that he already had her as the nominee and she should win the general 100 million to zero.”
Comey represented that he did not know of the texts, and has only read some of them since learning of their existence through the media.
Gowdy summarized: “So, in March of 2016, Peter Strzok is investigating Secretary Clinton — we’ll use your phrase — for the alleged mishandling of classified information. And at least according to this text, he has her winning the primary and/or the general election. Is that fair?”
Comey declined to answer.
Gowdy then wondered if he would have fired Strzok and Page if he knew of their texts.
“That I can’t answer in the abstract. I’d certainly want the FBI disciplinary process to work and to look at it, to decide whether discipline was appropriate and what that would be. But I can’t answer the ultimate question,” Comey said.
Gowdy persisted with the line of questioning until the former FBI leader conceded he probably would have removed Strzok or Page from the Clinton investigation, but he left open the possibility he could have been persuaded otherwise.
Outgoing House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia told Fox News on Sunday it was “truly stunning” that Comey did not know or could not recall answers for nearly 250 questions asked by those participating in the closed-door session.
“The biggest takeaway is that former FBI Director James Comey, with regard to the two most important investigations… into the Clinton email matter and into the Russia collusion matter, said, as you noted, I don’t recall, I don’t remember or I don’t know, 245 times,” Goodlatte said.
Trump tweeted on Sunday, “Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!”
Comey fired back that night in an interview at the 92nd Street YMCA in New York City.
“All of us should use every breath we have to make sure that the lying stops on January 20, 2021,” he said.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 10, 2018
“I understand the Democrats have important debates now over who their candidate should be … but they have to win,” he added. “They have to win.”
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