For seven months, FBI agent Peter Strzok has been the target of harsh criticism from President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans over his role in investigations into Russian election meddling.

On Thursday, Strzok got a chance to speak publicly for the first time, defending himself forcefully and harshly criticizing his own investigators.

Testifying publicly in a House Oversight Committee hearing, Strzok argued that Trump’s regular insinuations that he was part of a “deep state” effort to harm his candidacy are wrong, noting that there are procedures in place to prevent any single agent from affecting an investigation.

“The suggestion that I’m in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards, and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me — it simply couldn’t happen,” he said.

Here’s what you need to know about Strzok and the hearing.

Who is Peter Strzok?

Strzok was a lead agent on both the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation after the Justice Department’s inspector general began investigating whether he had sent text messages on a work phone criticizing then-candidate Trump to fellow FBI agent Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair. Strzok was later reassigned to a job in the FBI’s human resources division.

What did the Inspector General report say about Strzok?

Published on June 14, the Inspector General’s report was a review of the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server under former director James Comey — and it included discussions of the text messages between Strzok and Page.

During the course of their affair, they texted about their disdain of Trump and, at times, his supporters on their FBI-issued phones. The “predominant reason that we communicated on our work phones was because we were trying to keep our affair a secret from our spouses,” Page told investigators.

The report noted that these messages damaged the “FBI’s reputation for neutral fact finding and political independence.” However, it ultimately concluded that these displays of bias did not impact the FBI investigations. “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed,” the report concludes.

What did the text messages say?

Over 400,000 texts were …read more

Source:: Time – Politics

      

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Embattled FBI Agent Peter Strzok Is Testifying About the Russia Investigation and Those Trump Texts. Here’s What to Know

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