Hearing a 'victory notch in Putin's belt': Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in Russian Federation probe

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Things began to heat up after House Government & Oversight Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asked Strzok how many people he had interviewed as part of the Trump-Russia investigation before texting his lover FBI lawyer Lisa Page about President Trump's "impeachment".

"The credibility of a witness is always an issue", Gohmert said, as the committee fell into momentary chaos. Strzok told the Committee that FBI attorneys instructed him not to answer any questions about the ongoing investigation.

But later, Strzok testified that he wrote the text "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 frightful disgusting behavior [was] that the American population would not elect someone demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States".

Strzok told lawmakers that he never attempted to use his power to try and prevent then-candidate Trump from winning the presidency. However, when Justice Department officials saw texts he exchanged with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair, in which they disparaged Donald Trump, Mueller removed him from the investigation.

Strzok said some of his messages featured normal conversational "hyperbole", which Gowdy said was "inappropriate" for someone who is supposed to be "dispassionately, neutrally investigating" the subject of those texts.

Republicans have seized on Strzok and Page's tens of thousands of text messages over 2015-2017 - when both were involved in the Russian Federation investigation - as proof that the FBI is too riddled with bias to fairly investigate Trump. Strzok: "No ... we'll stop it".

That comment caused an uproar at the hearing, and one congresswoman even shouted, "what is wrong with you, you need your medication!" His texts with Page have come under heavy scrutiny following their release in the Justice Department Inspector General's report last month, including one in which he states "we'll stop it", in reference to a Trump election victory.

The vote took at least five minutes.

"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.

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First, it would be highly unusual in this context to say "we" in referring to the electorate.

"I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, at no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took", he said. It simply couldn't happen.

The response was met with some applause in the committee room.

He said the Trump investigation originated not out of personal animus but rather from concern that Russia was meddling in the election, including what he said were allegations of "extraordinary significance" of a Russian offer of assistance to a Trump campaign member. He described the texts as "hate filled and biased".

"What does Trump support smell like, Mr. Strzok?" the lawmaker wondered.

But, he added in a raised voice and emphatic tone, "It was in no way - unequivocally - any suggestion that me, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate".

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort's time in jail appears to have taken a toll.

"But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind", Strzok said.

Put those texts aside for a moment. Right?!" sent by Page, to which Strzok replied "No. But the report said it found no evidence of political bias in the FBI's decision to not pursue criminal charges against Clinton. Strzok was later reassigned to a job in the FBI's human resources division.