BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
by Sharon Rondeau
Peter Strzok, whose name has become a household word among those following government and politics closely, was subpoenaed on June 22 to appear before the committee to answer questions relating to his role in the Hillary Clinton private email server investigation and the counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign in 2016.
Prior to June 22, Strzok’s attorney had said that he would voluntarily appear before any congressional committee without a subpoena, but Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte stated in a press release that Strzok had not committed to a firm date and time, necessitating the subpoena.
Strzok was a main player, if not the leader, of the investigation into Trump’s presidential campaign’s alleged ties to Russian operatives. Text messages exchanged between Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page show that the two were eager to complete the Clinton investigation and launch the Trump probe immediately thereafter.
However, former Trump aides say that they were approached by individuals seeking to bribe, offer their “help,” or to simply obtain information earlier than July 31, 2016, when the FBI says it officially opened its investigation.
Page, who was staff attorney to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, has since resigned. On Tuesday morning, Fox News reported that Strzok is now “suspended” from his job in Human Resources, where he was moved after the Justice Department’s Inspector General discovered the politically-charged text messages between Page and him in the course of his investigation of the investigators.
Strzok has also reportedly lost his security clearance.
IG Michael Horowitz is report was made public on June 14. In congressional testimony last week, Horowitz said that he found the text messages to have indicated a clear bias against Trump on the part of Page and Strzok which was “deeply troubling.”
Horowitz maintained, however, that the ultimate decision not to recommend prosecution for Clinton for having sent classified information over an unsecured system did not result from political bias.
Since Donald Trump took office on January 20, 2017, more than a dozen FBI officials in key positions have resigned or been fired, including former FBI Director James B. Comey. Comey is said to be the focus of a forthcoming IG report reviewing his release of what is believed to have been classified information to his “friend,” Daniel Richman, who then leaked the contents to a reporter at The New York Times.
Early on Tuesday morning, Trump called for Strzok’s testimony to be conducted publicly rather than behind closed doors.
Democrat Ted Lieu of California agreed.
In response to Trump’s tweet, House Judiciary Committee member Jim Jordan said on Fox & Friends Tuesday that Strzok’s deposition will allow for more time for congressmen to pose questions as opposed to the five-minute limit imposed for public hearings. Jordan said that he would personally like to see Strzok return to provide public testimony.
On Thursday at 1:00 p.m., FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify to the committee publicly.
Correction: This story erroneously reported that Strozk would testify Tuesday, June 26 rather than Wednesday, June 27.