FBI agent Peter Strzok has long been one of — if not the — central villain in the Republican Party’s (fictional) story of how “deep state” Democrats conspired to exonerate Hillary Clinton for her criminal email activity — and then launch a “witch hunt” aimed at destroying an innocent Donald Trump.
This is because Strzok had participated in both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the special counsel’s probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — but was removed from the latter last summer, after an internal investigation discovered that he had expressed a low opinion of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race in text messages with his colleague Lisa Page. (Why this was supposed to be scandalous is unclear — a hefty chunk of congressional Republicans publicly expressed the same opinion at various points in 2016.)
Conservatives proceeded to cast one of those text messages as the smoking gun in its case against Strzok in particular, and the FBI investigation into Trump, in general: In response to a message from Page expressing horror at the thought of Trump’s election, Strzok replied, “We’ll stop it.”
On Thursday, House Republicans grilled Strzok for hours, making all manner of incendiary insinuations about what that text implied. Finally, after months of waiting, Strzok got his chance to address that matter — and delivered a scorching monologue fit for the climax of an Aaron Sorkin script.
Strzok implored Republicans to appreciate the context of his text, which was sent late at night, shortly after the Republican nominee had “insulted the immigrant family of a fallen war hero” (i.e., the family of Khizr Muazzam Khan, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention).
“My presumption [was] based on that horrible, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States,” Strzok explained. “It was in no way, unequivocally, any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate. ”
“At no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” Strzok continued. “The suggestion that I’m in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI [and] 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.”
The FBI agent went on to assail Republicans for corroding “what the FBI is in American society,” and impairing its capacity to execute its mission.
You can watch Strzok’s whole stirring oration below: