FBI agent Peter Strzok said Thursday he doesn’t know how many witnesses, if any, he interviewed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe before texting his mistress that President Trump should be impeached.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, had asked Mr. Strzok the question early in the embattled FBI agent’s testimony before Congress. However, Mr. Strzok declined to answer citing the advice of FBI counsel.
After a brief recess, Mr. Strzok said he was advised that he could answer the question. But when they returned from recess, Mr. Gowdy again asked Mr. Strzok how many witnesses he interviewed before concluding Mr. Trump’s impeachment.
Mr. Strzok sent two texts on May 17, 2017 and May 22, 2017, to his mistress, former FBI agent Lisa Page calling for Mr. Trump’s impeachment. The texts were sent shortly after Mr. Strzok joined the Mueller team as a lead investigator.
But he said that he couldn’t recall if he had interviewed any witnesses before texting Ms. Page that the president should be impeached.
“I don’t recall and I have to check the case file,” he said.
“We waited all that time for that answer,” Mr. Gowdy shot back.
Mr. Gowdy said that he reviewed the case file on Wednesday and noted that the first witness interview occurred on August 11.
“You used the word impeachment on May 17 and May 22 and your testimony can’t recall a single interview that would have done that would have lead to impeachment,” Mr. Gowdy said. “You are prejudging, not just a result, but a punishment, which is what impeachment is, when you have conducted a single, solitary interview. I’m sorry agent Strzok, but this is letting your bias impact your professional responsibility.”
Mr. Strzok again said his use of the word “impeachment” does not mean he had already decided the outcome of the Russia investigation.
“That was being used in the context of me not knowing what it would lead to,” Mr. Strzok said.
“Are you kidding me?!” an incredulous Mr. Gowdy fired back.
Later, Mr. Strzok clarified his response.
“What it demonstrates that I was looking at one potential outcome while simultaneously looking at the opposite outcome that there was no criminal activity whatsoever,” he said.
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