He testified in a closed session before the House Oversight and Judiciary committees on Wednesday.
The president and his supporters argue that Strzok’s early involvement in the Russia probe taints the entire investigation. On Thursday Trump tweeted that Strzok “was given poor marks on yesterday’s closed-door testimony” and that Strzok’s role in the Russia investigation was further evidence of the “witch hunt” against him. But although the president himself had called for Strzok’s testimony to be public, Congress did not agree.
Strzok certainly doesn’t act like someone with anything to hide. He offered to testify publicly and without a subpoena. He didn’t take the Fifth or demand immunity. Unlike the president in his dealings with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Strzok did not haggle for months over the terms or scope of an interview.
.. based on a few dozen text messages out of more than 40,000 that he and Page exchanged on FBI devices.
.. “We’ll stop it” text message? Most have assumed that “we” means the FBI. But it’s at least as likely that Strzok, in a personal message to his girlfriend, was referring to we the voters, or we the American people. That would have been an unremarkable sentiment shared by about half the people in the country
.. It’s quite a leap to go from that text message to a claim that Strzok tried to use his official powers to tip the election.
And there’s no evidence that he did.
.. Maybe Strzok really was part of a “deep state” conspiracy to take down Trump — even though everything the FBI did during the email investigation actually ended up hurting his opponent.
.. Maybe that same conspiracy now infects Mueller’s probe. If that’s the fear, what’s the argument for keeping Strzok’s testimony secret?
.. These congressmen who claim to be interested in transparency and full disclosure should be eager to make Strzok’s testimony public — particularly since the president claims that testimony will provide evidence of the “witch hunt” against him. So what are these Republicans hiding?
.. Strzok’s text messaging habits, however imprudent, have nothing to do with the merits of the Mueller investigation. Keeping his testimony secret leads only to selective leaks, spin and speculation.
In the 109 years of the FBI’s existence, it has repeatedly come under fire for abuses of power, privacy or civil rights. From Red Scares to recording and threatening to expose the private conduct of Martin Luther King Jr. to benefiting from bulk surveillance in the digital age, the FBI is accustomed to intense criticism.
What is so unusual about the current moment, say current and former law enforcement officials, is the source of the attacks.
The bureau is under fire not from those on the left but rather conservatives who have long been the agency’s biggest supporters, as well as the president who handpicked the FBI’s leader.
.. Wray’s defenders say there is a more strategic reason for the new director’s approach — by relying on long-standing law enforcement policies and procedures, he believes the FBI can navigate through the current political storms and get back to a position of widespread trust across the political spectrum, according to people familiar with his thinking.
.. “Following established process is important,” one person said. “Process can protect us.”
.. Comey’s firing shocked the FBI’s workforce. In the aftermath, many employees posted pictures of him at their desks or other workspaces.
.. Others express doubts about emulating Mueller’s detached approach, worried that Wray’s calculation not to publicly spar with the president may lead to a gradual erosion of the bureau’s reputation and clout.
.. On Friday, over Wray’s objection, Trump authorized the release of the Nunes memo and declared, “A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that.’’
.. He has called his own attorney general “beleaguered” and claimed the bureau’s reputation was “in tatters.”
.. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said on Fox News there was “evidence of corruption — more than bias but corruption — at the highest levels of the FBI,” and pointed to texts between two key officials who were once assigned to both the Clinton and Trump probes suggesting a “secret society” at the FBI. Those messages about a “secret society” are now widely seen to be a joke, but that has not diminished Republicans’ fervor
.. it conducts criminal investigations independently and without regard to the will of the chief executive. Trump has defied that norm. He asked Comey for a vow of loyalty, then inquired with Andrew McCabe, who replaced Comey after Trump fired him, for whom he voted.
.. The memo itself, though, doesn’t prove the case. It doesn’t have the kind of evidence in it that you would need to see to say that there was an abuse of that authority.”
.. While the president might now feel he wants the bureau under his firm control, Hosko said, he might regret that if a like-minded president took office and ordered investigations of Trump or his family.
.. Current and former law enforcement officials expect the struggle for control of the FBI to intensify.
.. “Republicans think this is just part of the war they are fighting.”