The Republicans’ charges of bias were bolstered earlier this month by a report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog that faulted top department officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, for their handling of the probe of Clinton’s emails. The report also detailed the communications by Strzok and others criticizing Trump.
While strongly criticizing the way the Clinton investigation was handled, the inspector general ultimately found no evidence that bias affected the decision not to charge her.
Strzok was recently escorted from the FBI building as his disciplinary process winds through the system, his attorney has said. He “remains a proud FBI agent” who wants to serve his country but has been the “target of unfounded personal attacks, political games and inappropriate information leaks,” according to a statement last week from the lawyer, Aitan Goelman.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., one of the most vocal critics of the Justice Department, said as he walked into the interview that he had several questions about the beginning of the Russia investigation in 2016 and the informants who were used to question Trump campaign staff.
“Ultimately you cannot have bias within the FBI and DOJ [the Justice Department] and expect justice to be meted out evenly,” Meadows said.
The Strzok interview is one of several events this week in which House Republicans are criticizing the Justice Department. At a contentious session Tuesday, the Republican-led Judiciary panel approved the resolution requesting that the department provide documents, despite an existing agreement to do so that was announced by the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., over the weekend.
Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, two vocal critics of the Clinton investigation, were behind the resolution, which wouldn’t be enforceable but would send a strong message to Justice Department officials.
The Justice Department and the FBI have already turned over more than 800,000 documents to congressional committees, but subpoenas from the Justice and Intelligence panels are demanding additional materials. Lawmakers have threatened to hold top Justice Department officials in contempt or impeach them if the documents aren’t turned over.
On Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will appear at an open hearing to testify about both investigations and the documents Republicans are seeking. Goodlatte said that he intends to use Thursday’s hearing to question Wray and Rosenstein about complying with the requests and that he encouraged “others to do the same.”
Democrats angrily fought the resolution approved Tuesday.
Reps. Jerrold Nadler of New York and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrats on the Judiciary and Oversight committees, respectively, accused Republicans after the interview of “desperately trying to find something — anything — to undermine” Mueller’s investigation.
“The special counsel’s investigation has already uncovered evidence to support indictments against 20 individuals and five guilty pleas,” they said in a statement. “His work stands on its own, in a court of law, and Republicans should stop trying to undermine it.”