Steve Bannon must testify to counter Peter Strzok testimony, House Democrats demand

FBI agent gets applause in contentious hearing after forceful defense of agency

Greg Nash

The cameras were on, and the theatrics were high.

He was removed from the Russian Federation investigation after the discovery of anti-Trump text messages exchanged with an FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair.

Democrats threw their support behind Strzok with gusto.

"We have indulged this harassment [for] nine minutes", Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a member of the House Oversight Committee, interjected at one point during Gowdy's questioning.

But despite the partisan hubbub, the stakes were high.

Republicans have alleged that Strzok's personal political biases may have affected decisions he made while serving as one of the key Federal Bureau of Investigation officials running its probes into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state and Trump's alleged Russian Federation ties. But House Republicans remain unconvinced.

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FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok testifies before the the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform on Capitol Hill, Thursday, July 12, 2018.

But Republicans dispute that timeline. One lawmaker said he was lying and another said he didn't believe him.

The hearing dissolved into chaos after Gohmert asked, "How many times did you look so innocently into your wife's eye and lie to her about Lisa Page?".

Strzok had told Gowdy he was unable to answer a question related to the Russian Federation probe, saying he had been instructed not to comment on matters related to an ongoing investigation.

Strzok expressed little regret for the most controversial text exchange with Page.

Trump - who mocks Page and Strzok as the "FBI lovers" - blasted Page's decision not to appear Thursday in a tweet, lamenting the "corruption on the other side" and again calling out Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do something about it. We " ll stop it".

But while reinforcing his dislike for Trump, Strzok repeated several times that he did not believe that the messages showed bias, to the frustration and disbelief of Republicans.

"I do not have bias", he continued, adding that he believed he was sacked not because his personal opinions impacted his work, but because the texts gave the "perception" of bias.

"We asked all the big Republicans to come on who were big at the hearing today", Cuomo noted.

During the daylong meeting, Strzok sparred with Republicans, who lashed out at him in often sharply personal exchanges.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa made Strzok read some of his texts aloud, including some with profane language.

The interview will also be transcribed, too, according to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Ohio.

Democrats upped the drama as well, yelling at the Republicans throughout the hearing.

"This investigation is a political charade - a platform to elevate far-right conspiracy theories and undermine the special counsel's ongoing criminal investigation of the President and his campaign aides", Nadler and Cummings said in that statement.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani attacked Strzok's marathon testimony and stated those who were investigating the president's former campaign had a "pathological hatred" toward Trump.

"That's a disgrace", Cicilline said. "Because it's not about you". "If you want to represent what you said accurately I am happy to answer that question, but I don't appreciate what was originally said being changed". More significant though, is that it also implies something quite ominous.

"Congressional subpoenas for testimony are not optional", Ryan said, promising that "we will do what we need to do to protect this branch of government".

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