WASHINGTON — Deepening tension between congressional Republicans and the Justice Department erupted in full public view Thursday, as a senior FBI agent sparred with lawmakers who suggested his bias against President Trump tainted the department’s Russia investigation.
Peter Strzok, the senior FBI official who oversaw the Hillary Clinton email investigation and helped lead the initial probe of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign strongly rejected claims that personal political views he shared with a colleague affected his official actions, while accusing Republicans of furthering Vladimir Putin’s goal of sowing discord in the U.S.
“I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart,” he said at a joint hearing of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, who have been jointly probing the Justice Department’s handling of both probes Strzok helped lead.
But during the course of a nearly 10-hour hearing, dozens of Republicans relentlessly questioned Strzok over some of the thousands of text messages he exchanged with Lisa Page, counsel to then-FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, in which the two were critical of then-candidate Trump.
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