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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.

Cases: 473413

Reported Deaths: 9214
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32339474
Hinds30703575
DeSoto29814346
Jackson23263336
Rankin21111358
Lee14600217
Madison14043265
Jones13165218
Forrest12953233
Lauderdale11418297
Lowndes10249175
Lamar10048128
Pearl River8737209
Lafayette8078136
Hancock7324111
Washington6837147
Oktibbeha6820118
Neshoba6404201
Monroe6372158
Warren6326161
Pontotoc610393
Panola6071124
Bolivar6016143
Marshall5972118
Union564086
Pike5491133
Lincoln5232130
Alcorn520888
George457868
Scott451993
Leflore4401140
Prentiss437276
Itawamba436198
Tippah436180
Simpson4268111
Copiah425586
Wayne424863
Tate4234100
Adams4219114
Yazoo415886
Sunflower4088104
Covington407391
Marion4032100
Leake393185
Coahoma388198
Newton364474
Grenada3517101
Stone345657
Tishomingo324888
Attala321185
Jasper310262
Winston300391
Clay288273
Chickasaw282164
Clarke277487
Calhoun259739
Holmes259485
Smith243947
Yalobusha216747
Tallahatchie215649
Walthall205557
Greene204045
Lawrence203831
Perry196453
Amite193751
Webster191941
Noxubee174538
Montgomery169853
Jefferson Davis165541
Carroll159937
Tunica148434
Benton139433
Kemper137439
Claiborne125634
Choctaw124925
Humphreys123337
Franklin115227
Quitman101825
Wilkinson99835
Jefferson86632
Sharkey62120
Issaquena1916
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 768301

Reported Deaths: 13209
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1093481727
Mobile699891179
Madison48418589
Baldwin35707452
Shelby35193291
Tuscaloosa33029512
Montgomery32582664
Lee21908204
Calhoun20140377
Morgan19351318
Etowah18583433
Marshall17272259
Houston16139353
St. Clair14956276
Limestone14129180
Cullman14069235
Elmore14010245
Lauderdale13128272
Talladega12399215
DeKalb11890229
Walker10231312
Autauga9493127
Blount9418149
Jackson9115136
Coffee8646161
Colbert8324169
Dale8284159
Escambia6456106
Tallapoosa6394168
Covington6313157
Chilton6243133
Russell591654
Franklin563597
Chambers5240132
Marion4628115
Dallas4626178
Clarke451471
Pike450091
Geneva4252106
Winston407987
Lawrence4046102
Bibb396177
Barbour338968
Marengo320981
Monroe311547
Butler309783
Pickens298769
Randolph294055
Henry293856
Hale286081
Cherokee279850
Fayette272271
Washington243545
Crenshaw232265
Clay221561
Macon214454
Cleburne209748
Lamar187839
Conecuh177139
Lowndes169056
Coosa163631
Wilcox154335
Bullock147142
Perry134235
Sumter123335
Greene119241
Choctaw72325
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