An already raucous hours-long Congressional hearing into FBI agent Peter Strzok’s apparent anti-Trump bias boiled over on Thursday afternoon, as a top Republican asked the “smirking” Strzok whether he was lying under oath the same way he “lied” to his wife while he carried on an affair with now-former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
“The disgrace is what this man has done to our justice system,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, shouted over objections by Democrats. “I can’t help but wonder, when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page?”
Democrats immediately erupted into more objections, with one yelling, “Mr. Chairman, this is intolerable harassment of the witness” and another calling out, “You need your medication.”
Strzok and Page exchanged numerous text messages on their FBI-issued phones expressing hostility toward then-candidate Trump in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, even as Strzok was a lead investigator on the Hillary Clinton and Russian meddling probes.
The two also communicated on their work phones to hide their affair from their spouses, according to a bombshell report released last month by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
Gohmert’s question was just one of several tense moments in the hearing, the Republicans’ first opportunity to question the embattled FBI agent publicly.
At one point, Republicans threatened Strzok with contempt for initially refusing to answer questions on the Russia probe.
Strzok, throughout it all, remained defiant and maintained that he did not show bias in those infamous messages with Page.
Republicans sharply disputed that assessment, with Rep. Darrell Issa later making Strzok read examples of those texts aloud. Among them, Strzok read one message in which he called Trump a “disaster,” and another calling him an “idiot.”
The initial contempt threat surfaced after House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., questioned “how many witnesses” Strzok interviewed before an August 2016 text from Strzok to Page stating “we’ll stop” then-candidate Trump from becoming president.
Strzok said he was not able to answer the question based on instructions from FBI counsel. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., rejected Strzok’s claim.
“Mr. Strzok, you are under subpoena and required to answer the question,” Goodlatte said.
This touched off a heated dispute. Judiciary Ranking Member Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., blasted Goodlatte for putting Strzok in an “impossible position,” while Strzok claimed he was there voluntarily. Goodlatte said Strzok could consult only with his own attorney, not the FBI’s.
Several other committee members chimed in, blasting top Republicans on the committee, with Nadler even motioning to adjourn the hearing all together.
At one point, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., even suggested that Strzok, a former Army officer, deserved a Purple Heart for his service to the country.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.