(Bloomberg) -- FBI agent Peter Strzok would “happily” answer lawmakers’ questions about the beginnings of the government’s Russia collusion investigation but was instructed by a bureau lawyer that he shouldn’t, his attorney said.
Aitan Goelman complained in a letter to staff of the House Judiciary Committee that Republicans have been “grandstanding” and “twisting” his answers from a closed-door interview last week.
For now, the FBI agent whose anti-Trump text exchanges in 2016 fed Republican allegations of bias in the bureau won’t accept the Judiciary panel’s offer of a July 10 date for a public hearing, Goelman said.
“Given that the committee has proven it is playing political games, violating both our trust and its own rules, it no longer makes sense for us to keep playing along," he wrote. Strzok also wants Congress and the FBI to come to an agreement beforehand on what he will be able to talk about.
A Judiciary Committee spokeswoman had no immediate comment. But Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte had previously complained at a hearing last week that an FBI lawyer blocked Strzok from providing answers the day before about some key activities in the early stages of the bureau’s investigation of Russia meddling in 2016 election.
Goelman in his letter complained that Republicans exploited Strzok’s 11-hour interview by “selectively leaking excerpts and twisting Pete’s word to make him look bad.”
“He is willing to testify again, and he is willing to testify publicly. Any suggestion that he is trying to avoid doing so is an outright lie,” Goelman wrote. “But not under conditions that are so obviously designed to embarrass and a trap an honorable man who has spent 25 years serving his country in the military and in law enforcement.”
The lawyer also questioned the motivation behind some of the committee’s questions, which included many about the texts he exchanged during an affair with another FBI official who worked on the probe, Lisa Page. He said Strzok was asked, for example, “Did you love Lisa Page?”
Goelman wrote that Strzok was also asked, “What DO Trump supporters SMELL like, Agent?,” in an apparent reference to Strzok’s August 2016 text to Page, where he wrote, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart.” Then he added, “I could SMELL the Trump support.”
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