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

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds110426
Madison77829
Lauderdale76569
Neshoba73945
Jones70933
Scott66312
Forrest60039
DeSoto59310
Rankin4639
Leake45512
Holmes44431
Copiah3344
Jackson31415
Attala31218
Yazoo2985
Newton2924
Oktibbeha28314
Leflore28238
Lincoln28131
Wayne2803
Monroe26925
Harrison2687
Lamar2525
Lowndes2529
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20416
Warren19910
Washington1998
Lee1978
Noxubee1956
Covington1832
Bolivar16911
Jasper1684
Clarke15619
Smith15611
Lafayette1564
Kemper15611
Chickasaw14314
Coahoma1324
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1165
Yalobusha1116
Grenada1104
Lawrence1071
Simpson1050
Sunflower963
Tate931
Hancock9012
Marshall893
Union897
Itawamba897
Webster885
Panola873
Wilkinson859
Montgomery841
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun684
Walthall670
Amite651
Humphreys647
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Choctaw522
Perry513
Pontotoc493
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie311
Greene301
George302
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19387

Reported Deaths: 676
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2341123
Jefferson1927105
Montgomery190544
Tuscaloosa85316
Marshall7149
Franklin5939
Lee56334
Shelby53619
Tallapoosa43566
Butler43121
Walker3973
Elmore38110
Chambers36326
Madison3594
Unassigned3144
Morgan3141
Baldwin2969
Dallas2963
Lowndes26912
Etowah26512
DeKalb2603
Autauga2485
Coffee2401
Sumter2369
Houston2275
Pike2231
Bullock2197
Colbert1972
Hale19210
Russell1870
Barbour1831
Marengo1796
Lauderdale1752
Calhoun1693
Cullman1631
Wilcox1587
Choctaw15310
Clarke1492
St. Clair1372
Randolph1288
Dale1250
Marion12511
Talladega1215
Pickens1215
Limestone1100
Chilton1081
Greene955
Macon944
Winston920
Jackson863
Henry842
Covington831
Crenshaw803
Escambia793
Bibb761
Washington746
Blount641
Lawrence510
Monroe492
Geneva450
Perry430
Conecuh421
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 70°
Columbus
Broken Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 69°
Oxford
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 64°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather