House Democrats could be seen applauding and rapping the table on Thursday in appreciation of a speech by FBI agent Peter Strzok defending himself against claims of bias in the bureau's investigations.
Strzok has been accused by Republicans of bias following the release of text messages to his lover Lisa Page showing his animus against Donald Trump and his supporters. He played key roles in the FBI's investigations of Hillary Clinton's private email server and Russian interference in the 2016 election, and he appeared Thursday in front of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees.
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In a raucous scene, Democrats objected to Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte's (R., Va.) attempts to get Strzok to answer a question by Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) about the Russia investigation. Strzok, who was removed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller from the Russia probe, swore he never let his political opinions affect his work.
Democrats shouted at Gowdy and Goodlatte to give Strzok the opportunity to answer Gowdy's questions about his conduct, and he said in an impassioned address that he took "great offense" at the idea that his infamous text that "we'll stop" Trump from winning was proof of FBI bias.
"I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, at no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took," he said. "Furthermore, this isn't just me sitting here telling you. You don't have to take my word for it. At every step, at every investigative decision, there are multiple layers of people above me, the assistant director, executive assistant director, deputy director and Director of the FBI, and multiple layers of people below me, section chiefs, supervisors, unit chiefs, case agents and analysts, all of whom were involved in all of these decisions."
"They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me anymore than I would tolerate it in them," he went on. "That is who we are as the FBI, and the suggestion that I, in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI, would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards, and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn't happen, and the proposition that that is going on, that it might occur anywhere in the FBI, deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive."
Applause broke out in the room, and the Fox News' angle showed several Democrats clapping, including one who rapped on her desk in approval. CNN, MSNBC and CSPAN's feeds did not show such an angle.