- The Washington Times
Thursday, July 12, 2018

Embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok told lawmakers Thursday that focusing on him and not Russian election interference is a victory for Vladimir Putin.

“I have the utmost respect for Congress’ oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart,” Mr. Strzok said, referring to the Russian president. “As someone who loves this country and cherishes its ideals, it is profoundly painful to watch and even worse to play a part in.”

Mr. Strzok’s remarks were part of his opening statement before two congressional committees. Lawmakers from the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform committees are set to grill the FBI agent, who had sent several anti-Trump texts, on whether his political biases shaped his investigations into Hillary Clinton and President Trump.

Mr. Strzok was a key figure into the probe of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server while she was secretary of state and, briefly, part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion surrounding the 2016 presidential election.

The agent insisted his personal dislike of Mr. Trump did not influence his decisions.

“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,” Mr. Strzok said. “That’s true for the Clinton email investigation, for the investigation into Russian interference, and for every other investigation I’ve worked on. It’s not who I am, and it is not something I would ever do. Period.”

He also defended the Mueller probe, which Mr. Trump has dismissed as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”

“This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax,” Mr. Strzok said.

Mr. Strzok gained national scrutiny last year when text messages disparaging the president were uncovered. The messages were sent to former FBI attorney Lisa Page, who was also a member of Mr. Mueller’s team for a short time.

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