Rep. Gowdy grills Strzok over text messages

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) questions FBI agent Peter Strzok during a House Oversight Committee hearing.

Posted: Jul 13, 2018 8:28 AM
Updated: Jul 13, 2018 8:28 AM

Congress has done it again. It has wasted our time and proven it cannot seriously exercise its critical role of holding the executive branch accountable.

In an important hearing Thursday, ostensibly scheduled to allow embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok to face the American people and answer important questions about his conduct during the 2016 election season, House Republicans could not help but stray from oversight into embarrassing overreach.

The committee hearing should have been an opportunity to ask Strzok about his now-famous text messages with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, a fellow employee with whom he had engaged in an extramarital affair and exchanged communications disparaging then-candidate Trump. Congress should have taken this chance to grill him about both the Hillary Clinton and Russia investigations to evaluate whether his personal political beliefs impacted his work.

Instead, the spectacle devolved into a chaotic scene more reminiscent of a bar fight than a congressional hearing, with members of Congress yelling over each other and displaying their complete lack of respect for decorum. In one exchange impugning Strzok's integrity, Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, offered the following disgusting remark, "When I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife's eye and lie to her about Lisa Page?"

There is no question, our present polarized political climate has tempers flaring on both sides of the political aisle, but this raucous hearing did not prove to be the venue for adult discussion. Instead, we had three separate parties -- Republicans, Democrats, and Strzok -- talking past each other with differing motivations. They were not only ships passing in the night, they weren't even operating in the same dimension.

Republicans, intent on proving the existence of a politically motivated cabal of deep-staters within the FBI, expressed dismay at not receiving answers to questions they expected to be addressed. Democrats were clearly frustrated at the GOP showboating and badgering of the witness. Peter Strzok, for his part, sought to explain himself and the batches of personal communications publicly released without context by Congress.

Despite its efforts to the contrary, Congress succeeded in humanizing someone who has long been a political punching bag of House Republicans and the President of the United States.

Strzok's demeanor -- speaking passionately only when required to defend himself -- stood in stark contrast to the grandstanding of committee members. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, reached into his quiver of snarky remarks, slinging arrows that incredibly bounced off Strzok's shield of calm self-control.

Embattled Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, determined the best way to proceed was to consistently interrupt the witness and prevent him from providing any fulsome answers. (How rich it is that Jordan was separately engaged in his own struggle to fight off allegations of wrongdoing at the very moment he worked to inhibit the ability of a witness to defend himself.)

In the end, the only thing we really learned is that Strzok -- a government official who exercised terrible judgment in his mode and manner of communicating -- is a fallible human being. He also came across as a long-term public servant with a passion for protecting the United States against foreign threats. When compared to the juvenile behavior of those in charge of his inquisition, he came across as almost saintly.

This hearing was not only a colossal waste of time, but it served to leave the American people with many more questions than when it began. The only thing we can conclude with any certainty is that Congress is broken beyond repair, and we still do not fully know to what extent politics may have played a role in the actions of law enforcement.

While many Republican legislators sought to convince the American people that the FBI was operating corruptly, they didn't make much headway. In fact, Congress did help the public conclude the agency is much more functional and admirable than the elected leaders responsible for overseeing it.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
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Washington252197
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Scott123829
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Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
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Smith58316
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Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
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Perry48122
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Stone45014
Amite41713
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Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
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Houston364632
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Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
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Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
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Perry5806
Wilcox55912
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Choctaw38712
Greene33916
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