Former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok defended his affair with now former FBI advisors Lisa Side during a closed door look before the house's judicial authority last summer, repeatedly refuses the relationship to pose a security risk when challenged by GOP assistants, according to a recently released copy of his testimony.
Strzok, who was fired from the agency after several months of investigation into anti-Trump text messages between him and Page, confirmed that he was involved in an extramarital affair when asked about it during his pre-committee interview on June 27, 2018.
But Strzok was also asked by Art Baker, the GOP's committee of inquiry for the committee, whether that affair could have made him "vulnerable to potential recruitment" of "hostile intelligence[s]. "
"Yes, I don't think I'd characterize it that way," Strzok said. "I think it's not so much a particular act as it is the way that action can be used to force or otherwise get someone to do something. I can tell you that the inexorable affair would in no way have the power to force me to do nothing but comply with the law and make honest and competent inquiry. "
Baker continued to press Strzok on whether the case could have been a "vulnerability" if he had been contacted by a foreign intelligence service.
"I would definitely not respond, you know – and by entering into you knowledge of art here, an argument is that you would tell the service:" Let me come back to you. "I would immediately report it to my superiors and see how they wanted to follow up," Strzok explained. "But it is – I would definitely not have been vulnerable or even consider any recruitment attempt at all."
The details emerged in a long transcript released on Thursday by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., Top Republican at the House Court Committee. Strzok lawyer Aitan Goelman welcomed the publication in a written statement and said:
"Pete welcomes the release of the transcript of his closed door testimony that we have demanded since he voluntarily witnessed last June. It is further evidence that Pete performed his duties honestly, patriotically, and irrespectively at any time to his personal political attitudes as opposed to the impression that the President's allies in Congress tried to create with their selective and often inaccurate leaks. "
Later in the hearing, GOP's senior advisor Ryan Breitenbach again raised the subject matter and asked Strzok whether the Ministry of Justice or the FBI knew about his and her "indiscretions".
"I do not know what they did or did not. I want to tell you – and I think why it is relevant – why I say this is not necessarily relevant is that my understanding of the Bureau regulation is that Whatever moral you might think of an extramarital affair, it is not prohibited by the agency regulation or policy, "Strzok explained, further defending his relationship with Page.
"Absolutely, if someone is in your chain of command, if there is any kind of discomfort or favoritism, or things like that, it is. But simply an extramarital relationship is not," he said.
Strzok was again asked if he believed his affair would have made him "susceptible to potential exploitation" of a foreign intelligence service. Strzok said again, "I don't."
"My existence of an extramarital affair is not something that could ever have been used to forcing me," Strzok said. "It is not something that could have been used to, you know, blackmail me or else you know, exploit a vulnerability."
Strzok and Page both worked at Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Team-with-Side, serving a brief detail and returning to the FBI during the summer of 2017, and Strzok was later removed from his position and transferred to the FBI & # 39 ; s human resources division following the revelations of their anti-Trump text messages, uncovered by the Justice Minister's Inspector General.
Strzok was asked whether the FBI or Mueller's office knew about their circumstances when they were transferred from the team.
"I don't know how much it was or was not known within the FBI," Strzok said. "And I just don't do it – after answering it a couple of times now, really, I can't tell you – I mean outside the setting and everything is happening – it's been – and the use and publicity of all this, extraordinary painful and harmful and harmful to my family. And I just don't want to continue participating in that process. "
During Strzok's public congress's testimony last July in the judiciary and supervisory committees, the affair itself was not a main focus of the committee's question – until the Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, blasted Strzok in deep personal terms.
"Shame is what this man has done for our legal system," Gohmert said at the hearing on July 12, 2017. "I don't wonder, but when I see you look a little smirk, how many times have you looked so innocent out in your wife's eyes and lying to her about Lisa Page? "
Democrats broke out with objections and said Gohmert's comments were "unacceptable harassment of the witness".
Strzok and Page communicated on their work phones to hide their affair from their spouses, according to the inspector's general report released in June 2017.
The two were also assigned to the Bureau's investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server and the handling of classified information, a case called "Midyear Exam" or "MUCH" inside the agency. Side came out of his position as an FBI council in May 2018. Strzok was fired from his position in August 2018.