FBI agent Peter Strzok refused Thursday to hand over his text messages to Congress for further investigation, telling the U.S. House of Representatives that the Inspector General had already reviewed the relevant texts and found “no acts of bias.”
Strzok had been the lead agent in both the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, and of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He was part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team until he was removed due to the appearance of political bias, thanks to the emergence of anti-Trump text messages he had exchanged with his mistress.
House Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-LA) pointed out that Congress had independent authority to investigate, and asked Strzok directly: “Will you authorize release of them [the texts] to the United States Congress?” Strzok said: “No, sir.”
Earlier, Stzrok told Goodlatte that the Inspector General had allowed him and his legal counsel to review his text messages with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and to determine which were work-related. The texts included many statements hostile to Donald Trump and his supporters, and referred to stopping Trump from being elected and impeaching him after he had taken office.
Strzok’s description of the Inspector General’s report is not accurate. While the report did conclude that political bias had not affected the FBI’s actions as a whole with regard to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, the Inspector General noted that he had not been able to rule out the role of political bias in Strzok’s own decision to prioritize the Russia inquiry (emphasis added):
In assessing the decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop, we were particularly concerned about text messages sent by Strzok and Page that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions they made were impacted by bias or improper considerations. Most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, and the implication in some of these text messages, particularly Strzok’s August 8 text message (“we’ll stop” candidate Trump from being elected), was that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. Under these circumstances, we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.
In addition, the Inspector General’s report only concerned the Clinton investigation; a future report will address the Russia inquiry.
Former House Oversight Committee chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) noted that the Inspector General “did not see what he is claiming to be his personal texts, that they were requested and he delivered what he said was business-related. So if I understand correctly, no one has seen anything that Mr. Strzok determined would not be delivered, because in his opinion they were not business-related.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.