House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler on Tuesday defended Peter Strzok as operating in the “highest tradition” of government service, even though the former FBI official was fired from the bureau for exchanging anti-Trump text messages with his mistress.
Nadler heaped praise on Strzok in response to a Republican colleague’s remarks during a hearing on election security that the former FBI counterintelligence official had “very much damaged” the reputation of the FBI.
“People like Peter Strzok and others, I think very much damaged — it’s unfair to the rest of the organization because the FBI is truly a great organization, one of the best in this nation,” said Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot.
Chabot was seemingly referring to anti-Trump text messages that led to Strzok’s removal from the special counsel’s Russia team, as well as his firing from the FBI. Strzok exchanged the messages with Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an extramarital affair.
Nadler, a Democrat from New York, jumped to Strzok’s defense.
“Let me just say for the record that I think Peter Strzok acted in the highest tradition of government workers,” he said.
Strzok, who was one of the FBI’s top investigators on the Hillary Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations, was fired in August 2018 over his anti-Trump messages.
He was removed from the special counsel’s team in July 2017 after the Justice Department inspector general discovered the texts.
A report from the inspector general released in June 2018 said that many of Strzok’s texts were “not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.”
“This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice,” the report said.
The report called attention to an Aug. 8, 2016 text message that Strzok sent to Page in which he said “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president.
Strzok has acknowledged being critical of Trump, but has denied that bias affected his decisions in the Russia investigation.
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