Friday, June 22, 2018

Gowdy scorches Comey in blistering opening statement at IG hearing






House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy scorched James Comey in a blistering opening statement at a high-profile congressional hearing on Tuesday, declaring “we can’t survive with a justice system we don’t trust.”

Gowdy kicked off the hearing featuring testimony from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on his review of the Hillary Clinton email case. The top DOJ watchdog is on Capitol Hill for the second day in a row to discuss the explosive report.

But Gowdy launched into Tuesday's session -- a joint hearing held by the House oversight and judiciary panels -- with a fiery condemnation of the former FBI director and certain agents in the bureau he led.

Referring to IG findings that Comey defied his superiors in his handling of the Clinton email case, Gowdy accused the ex-director of essentially operating by his own rules.

"We see Jim Comey and Jim Comey alone deciding which DOJ policies to follow and which to ignore," he said.

Gowdy accused Comey of watering down his initial statement on the investigation's findings and making other decisions on his own. While Comey has suggested he acted unilaterally out of concern for the Justice Department's handling of the case, Gowdy questioned why he didn't seek a special counsel -- as he indirectly did regarding concerns about the Trump administration.

“Instead, he appointed himself FBI director, attorney general, special counsel, lead investigator and the general arbiter of what is good and right in the world according to him,” Gowdy said.

Gowdy said that Horowitz’s report, which was released last Thursday, should “conjure anger, disappointment and sadness in anyone who reads it.”

He also said that, in the wake of the IG report, there were FBI agents and attorneys who decided to "prejudge" the outcome of the Clinton case.

“These exact same FBI agents and attorney prejudged the outcome of the Russia investigation before it even began,” he added.

He said “prejudging the outcome of an investigation before it ends, and prejudging the outcome of an investigation before it begins” is the “textbook definition of bias.”

Horowitz also testified on Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In that hearing, he confirmed that his office was investigating Comey for potentially mishandling classified information, regarding the sharing of memos detailing conversations with President Trump.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.



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FBI agent Peter Strzok ‘escorted’ from FBI building, lawyer confirms



Peter Strzok, the FBI agent under fire over a series of anti-Trump text messages, was "escorted" from the FBI building, his lawyer confirmed to Fox News on Tuesday.

Strzok's lawyer, Aitan Goelman, argued that even though his client has "played by the rules," he has been targeted by "unfounded personal attacks, political games and inappropriate information leaks."

"All of this seriously calls into question the impartiality of the disciplinary process, which now appears tainted by political influence," a statement from Goelman said.

He said that Strzok "has complied with every FBI procedure, including being escorted from the building as part of the ongoing internal proceedings." The attorney did not say exactly when Strzok was escorted out.

"Instead of publicly calling for a long-serving FBI agent to be summarily fired, politicians should allow the disciplinary process to play out free from political pressure," Goelman said. "Our leaders and the public should be very concerned with how readily such influence has been allowed to undermine due process and the legal protections owed to someone who has served his country for so long. Pete Strzok and the American people deserve better."
The FBI had no comment when contacted by Fox News.

News of Strzok's removal came after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed during a Congressional hearing earlier Tuesday that his office was looking into whether Strzok's anti-Trump bias played a role in the launch of the bureau's Russia probe.

Horowitz's report on the Clinton email investigation, which was released last week, revealed a text sent by Strzok to his then-colleague and lover Lisa Page.
The IG report said Page texted Strzok in August 2016, prior to then-candidate Donald Trump's election night win, saying "[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!"

"No. No he won't. We'll stop it," Strzok responded.

Roughly 50,000 text messages were sent between the pair over the course of the 2016 presidential campaign and Trump's first year in the White House. Among them included comments that focused on special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, while others bashed the president.

Others also showed an allegience to former FBI Director James Comey in the wake of his firing.

When asked to comment about the FBI official being escorted from the agency, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told Fox News that "it's way past time for Peter Strzok to hopefully start to find a different career and restore some credibility to the FBI that most of us love and admire and certainly lady justice has to be someone who wears a blindfold and with Peter Strzok it was obvious with his text messages that that was not the case."

Fox Business' Bruce Becker and Fox News' Bill Mears, Brooke Singman, Alex Pappas and Jason Donner contributed to this report.