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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 8:09 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 304023

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin641421113
Ramsey27059502
Anoka21526225
Dakota21268190
Washington13529113
Stearns13524108
St. Louis8433108
Scott820154
Wright746139
Olmsted653534
Sherburne570941
Clay483956
Carver455913
Blue Earth405214
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Crow Wing353431
Nobles304929
Chisago304410
Otter Tail300522
Benton293348
Winona273730
Mower257423
Douglas250735
Polk248923
Morrison228029
Lyon213411
Beltrami211917
McLeod205011
Becker199815
Goodhue196728
Steele19137
Itasca185523
Isanti184917
Todd178413
Carlton177715
Nicollet158725
Freeborn15125
Mille Lacs149931
Le Sueur144911
Cass138610
Waseca137811
Brown136415
Pine13138
Meeker12398
Roseau11454
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Martin111220
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Rock7569
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Kanabec59613
Murray5783
Swift5758
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Clearwater5058
Jackson4841
Marshall4758
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Unassigned36759
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Lincoln3511
Norman3417
Big Stone3072
Mahnomen2904
Grant2726
Kittson2138
Red Lake2053
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Cook660

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 225897

Reported Deaths: 2345
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33451334
Linn14206164
Scott1116385
Black Hawk10849134
Woodbury10323124
Johnson948636
Dubuque918291
Story677621
Dallas633657
Pottawattamie624570
Sioux369125
Webster357833
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Marshall347846
Clinton327540
Buena Vista304114
Des Moines287920
Muscatine286468
Warren279611
Plymouth274242
Wapello255071
Jones229813
Jasper217443
Marion204320
Lee202217
Carroll197322
Bremer194212
Henry18227
Crawford174316
Benton169519
Tama153840
Jackson144313
Delaware143221
Washington140214
Dickinson138210
Boone136311
Mahaska126727
Wright12336
Clay11714
Buchanan116410
Hardin115010
Page11294
Clayton11105
Hamilton11059
Cedar107413
Harrison106729
Calhoun10617
Kossuth10566
Floyd104116
Mills10407
Fayette103310
Lyon10268
Butler10116
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Iowa94612
Winnebago91723
Hancock8607
Louisa85816
Sac8578
Grundy85611
Chickasaw8494
Cherokee8374
Cass80823
Allamakee79911
Mitchell7884
Appanoose78710
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Union7676
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Jefferson7112
Madison6804
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Keokuk5967
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