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Trey Gowdy vs. Peter Strzok: 15 minutes of fiery exchanges

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Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III departs after a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill in June 2017

Peter Strzok, who once worked on an FBI investigation into former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information, has become a target for Republicans trying to show the FBI is biased against Trump. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., spar during a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday.

"I don't appreciate being mischaracterized", Mr. Strzok said.

The Justice Department's inspector general has criticized Strzok and Page for creating the appearance of impropriety through the texts. "If you want to represent what you said accurately, I'm happy to answer that question, but I don't appreciate what was originally said being changed".

President Trump and his allies have repeatedly touted text messages between and Strzok and Federal Bureau of Investigation attorney Lisa Page during the 2016 campaign as proof of bias by Mueller's probe. "Furthermore, this isn't just me sitting here telling you, you don't have to take my word for it", Strzok said in a lengthy statement that ended with applause from Democrats.

"Mr. Chairman, there's no basis for that", protested the top Judiciary Democrat, Rep.

"I will not, based on direction of the FBI ... answer that question, because it goes to matters which are related to the ongoing investigations being undertaken by the special counsel's office", Strzok said. It was in no way, unequivocally, any suggestion that me, the F.B.I., would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate.

"I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there's no big there there", Strzok said in the text.

In the prepared remarks, Strzok will admit that while his text message criticism was "blunt", it was not directed at one person or political party and included jabs not only at Donald Trump, but also at Hillary Clinton and Sen.

At one point, Strzok said he didn't appreciate an assertion from Gowdy, who retorted, "I don't give a damn what you appreciate".

"I acknowledge that is absolutely their right, that is what makes our democracy such a vibrant process that it is", Strzok said.

"Agent Strzok, that is a fantastic answer to a question that nobody asked", Gowdy fired back.

"You need to understand that that was written late at night, off-the-cuff and it was in response to a series of events that included then-candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero, and my presumption based on that awful disgusting behavior [was] that the American population would not elect someone demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States", Strzok said.

Goodlatte told Alisyn Camerota on CNN's "New Day" Thursday morning that Page had agreed to an interview Friday. His lawyer has argued that the public hearing is an attempt by Republicans to "trap" Strzok, and they have urged the committee's Republicans to release the transcript of his closed-door interview.

"As House Judiciary Republicans spend half the day or longer publicly flogging Peter Strzok", wrote Wheeler, "know that all that flogging can not change the fact that key evidence in Mueller's possession, evidence which I suspect implicates the president directly, has absolutely no tie to Peter Strzok at all".

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