Embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok suggested during an open hearing Thursday that the ongoing congressional investigation into political bias within the FBI would severely damage the institution of American law enforcement.
“This entire exercise comes at a cost,” said Strzok, who was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. “We are doing things that are going to, in the future, tear down the underpinnings of what represents law and order in this country. And there is not a robust, thick wall there. I think people don’t appreciate how tenuous the balance of the rule of law verses chaos is.”
The veteran FBI agent then appeared to conflate the ongoing congressional investigation into political bias within the agency to more general attacks on law enforcement, such as the characterization of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers as “Nazis” by some on the far left.
“When we as a people engage in activity where we take the institutions wholesale, whether its the FBI or the U.S. intelligence community, and compare them to Nazis, we destroy things that we may not see for years and years. Once we break those down the amount of time it’s going to take to fix is going to be tenfold.”
Strzok, who also investigated Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, repeatedly denied throughout the hearing that his political bias — well-documented in text messages he sent to his mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page — affected his conduct during those high-profile investigations.
“Any suggestion that me, the FBI, would taken any action improperly impact the electoral process — I take great offense and disagreement about what it was or wasn’t,” said Strzok. “At no time, in any text, did those personal beliefs enter into the realm of any action I took.”
Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), who has led the charge against perceived bias within the FBI as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, repeatedly badgered Strzok during the hearing, refusing to accept his assurance that political bias did not affect his professional conduct.
Gowdy’s aggressive lines of questioning and penchant for exceeding his allotted time drew the ire of his Democratic colleagues, who repeatedly suggested that the entire hearing was a futile exercise and only served to distract the body from more important matters.