As our Allegra Kirkland and Tierney Sneed have reported, in far more eloquent terms, Thursday’s joint interview of former FBI agent Peter Strzok, before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, was weird.
Strzok was asked to answer for a number of topics highly unrelated to the anti-Trump text messages he once exchanged with his former lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Such as:
“What does Trump support smell like?”
“Are we just making up the rules as we go?”
“Can you read that profanity laced text out loud for us, please?” (paraphrased)
In between being told he could only liaise with his personal attorney, not FBI counsel, and threats of being held in contempt, one Republican lawmaker decided to strike Strzok below the belt.
Far below it.
To start, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) opted to use up a portion of his five minutes with Strzok to raise a tired, yet darling Republican talking point: Hillary Clinton. Addressing the former FBI agent, he launched into a mystifying diatribe about work that Strzok may or may not have done on the Clinton email probe, a harangue that culminated with Gohmert asserting that Strzok didn’t “seem to be all that concerned of our national integrity, of our election when it was involving Hillary Clinton.” (A confusing contention, given the Clinton probe involved her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, not a presidential election.)
Without offering Strzok the chance to respond, Gohmert then began to lecture the former FBI agent for not admitting he had a political bias while working on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe (Strzok admitted having his own political views in opening remarks) and cryptically commended him for being “really good” at “lying.”
“He can probably pass the polygraph!”
That comment was met with cries of “disgrace!” from Democratic Rep. David Cicilline (RI), who promptly placed his foot in his mouth as Gohmert seized on the Democrat’s vocabulary to further pounce on Strzok’s moral compass.
“No, the disgrace is what this man has done to our justice system!” he shouted. “There is the disgrace, and it won’t be recaptured anytime soon because of the damages you’ve done to the justice system and I’ve talked to FBI agents around the country, you’ve embarrassed them, you’ve embarrassed yourself.”
And then, the most feeble blow:
“And I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page?”
Democratic groans of outrage ensued.
Among the more amusing objections made to Gohmert’s unprecedentedly personal line of attack came from Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ): “What is wrong with you? Do you need your medication?”
As the protests died down, Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) pointed out that it’s against Committee rules to impugn the character of a witness. Gohmert ended his time with Strzok by babbling about Hillary Clinton again and trying to block the former agent from responding to his personal assaults.
As a frequent apologist for those accused of sexual misconduct or ignoring abuse, Gohmert is clearly no maestro of morality. The congressman campaigned for accused child molester Roy Moore and even defended the twice unseated state Supreme Court justice against accusations he called “grossly unfair.” Just this past week, Gohmert shielded Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who has been accused of ignoring Ohio State wrestlers’ reports of sexual assault.
But the texts!
For peppering Strzok with questions more uncanny than Goodlatte’s quizzing on the scent of Walmart-shopping Trump supporters, Gohmert is our Duke of the Week.