SAYS FORMER SECRETARY “CRITICAL PLAYER” IN PROBE, BUT NOT “TARGET”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 17, 2019) — Under questioning on June 27, 2018 by then-House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, former FBI Deputy Assistant Director of counterintelligence Peter Strzok said that the private, unauthorized server Hillary Clinton used while serving as Secretary of State was used by “a variety of people” (p. 119).
During his time to ask the witness questions, Gowdy demanded to know who authored and signed the electronic communication (EC) used to launch the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign, with Gowdy himself declaring that Strzok himself had done both.
Strzok, along with FBI counsel Mr. Besse, said he could not respond to the question given that it involved classified information.
Gowdy then turned to the way in which Strzok approached the Clinton email investigation begun in 2015 which ended in no criminal referral to the Justice Department.
Throughout his questioning, Gowdy appeared to express skepticism toward Strzok’s claim that his decisions in both investigations, in which he played a key role, were not guided by “personal beliefs” or political views.
In thousands of text messages retrieved and examined by the Justice Department’s Inspector General beginning in January 2017, Strzok and former FBI attorney and colleague Lisa Page were found to have expressed strong views about the 2016 presidential election in favor of Clinton and against Trump.
While his June testimony was conducted behind closed doors, Strzok publicly testified on July 12, again asserting that no political considerations entered into his decisions in either investigation.
After Gowdy presented Strzok with, “Whose server was it?” Strzok hesitated, then responded, “There are a variety of people who use that server…”
On the previous page, Gowdy appeared to have excoriated Strzok for declining to use the word, “target” in regard to Clinton and the investigation surrounding the private server over which she sent classified information.
Rather than “target,” Strzok characterized Clinton at the time as “a critical player” in the investigation, dubbed “Mid-Year Exam,” leading to the revelation that “The server was run by a variety of entities and used by people including the Clinton Foundation, Secretary Clinton, former President Clinton.”
Strzok’s rationale was that the term “target” was used by the Justice Department and not the FBI. Strzok did, however, admit that Clinton sent classified information over the server, which circumvented government-established protocols and firewalls.
On page 122, Strzok characterized Clinton as “a compelling candidate and likely to win.”