PREPARED REMARKS:  RUSSIA PROBE “NOT A WITCH HUNT”

by Sharon Rondeau

(Jul. 12, 2018) — Former FBI counterintelligence deputy chief Peter Strzok is scheduled to testify publicly for the first time about his role in the Hillary Clinton private email server and Trump-Russia “collusion” investigations.

The House Oversight & Government Reform and Judiciary Committees will be questioning Strzok for an undetermined amount of time. He previously was grilled and private for as long as 11 hours, according to media reports.

Politically-charged text messages between Strzok and former FBI counsel Lisa Page, who defied a congressional subpoena on Wednesday, were a focus of intense scrutiny by the Justice Department’s Inspector General as revealed in his 568-page report released June 14.

The text show that Page and Strzok were following the 2016 presidential campaign closely and appearing to insert themselves in such a way as to possibly affect the outcome. At the same time, the two appeared to show a willingness to conclude the Clinton investigation early in order to launch the Trump-Russia probe which Trump has perennially called a “witch hunt.”

According to Fox News via the AP, Strzok’s prepared remarks for Thursday’s hearing include the claim by Strzok that the Russia “collusion” probe is not a “witch hunt” and that his “personal opinions” never affected his work at the FBI.

Although still employed at the agency, Strzok was escorted out of his office approximately two weeks ago and his security clearance revoked. Page resigned on May 4 and, according to the House Judiciary Committee, will be held in contempt of Congress if she does not appear either at today’s hearing alongside Strzok, at a private Friday morning deposition, or both.

Update:  At 10:00 a.m. EDT, Strzok was seated at the table where he will face questions, with the media snapping photos as Strzok spoke with someone, likely his attorney, behind him.

10:17 a.m.:  According to Fox News, Page has agreed to testify in private on Friday morning.

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