"I don't give a damn what you appreciate, agent Strzok".
The FBI agent went on to assail Republicans for corroding "what the FBI is in American society", and impairing its capacity to execute its mission.
After a fierce line of questioning from Gowdy, Strzok was given the opportunity to contextualize his text with Page.
"My presumption, based on that frightful, disgusting behavior that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be President of the United States", Strzok said.
"Mr. Strzok, I don't know where to start", Cohen said as he started his allotted five minutes. "So, I take great offence, and I take great disagreement to your assertion of what that was or wasn't".
Gowdy seized on one message that has received particular attention from right-wing media outlets, an August 8, 2016, text in which Strzok, discussing with Page the prospect of a Trump win, says, "No".
Strzok called it "horrible and disgusting behaviour", and said he was stating his opinion the electorate would "stop" a candidate like that. People are losing faith in the political honesty of their government.
The FBI agent said the Russian Federation investigation that began in summer 2016 had the power to "derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump". "But", he said, "the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind".
The exchange between Gowdy - an outspoken Republican who rose to prominence over his handling of the congressional Benghazi hearings - and Strzok on Thursday ended with Strzok erupting into an impassioned monologue about how his personal texts did not interfere with any investigation, and blasting any attempt to use concerns about his texts to undermine confidence in the FBI.
But that's unlikely to be the focus of Thursday's hearing. Goodlatte said he was holding open the prospect of calling Strzok back again because he was unsatisfied with the lack of answers to some questions. "That is bias. Agent Strzok may not see it but the rest of the country does, and it is not what we want, expect or deserve from any law enforcement officer much less the Federal Bureau of Investigation".
"But that is, thus far, what we have found".
Strzok said he was directed by FBI's legal counsel not to answer questions about an ongoing investigation, but Goodlatte demanded that he answer Gowdy's question, prompting a lengthy delay before Strzok asked to speak to the FBI general counsel. Alex Wong/Getty Images Strzok played a critical role in both the Clinton and Russian Federation probes. Democrats are interrupting constantly, grandstanding pearl clutching, and engaging in some of the worst hypocrisy in recent memory.
An argument ensued between Goodlatte and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the committee's ranking member, who contended that Gowdy was putting Strzok in an "impossible position".
"Like many people, I had and expressed personal political opinions during an extraordinary presidential election", Strzok said.
"You used the word impeachment on May 17 and May 22 and your testimony can't recall a single interview that would have done that would have lead to impeachment", Mr. Gowdy said.
Meanwhile, across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort arrived at his new jail facility, as he awaits the first of two trials on charges of money laundering, illegal foreign lobbying and obstruction of justice.
Thursday's hearing, which was the first public appearance Strzok has made since he became a central figure in the Russian Federation investigation, underscored the deep tensions on Capitol Hill over the FBI's investigations connected to the 2016 election.
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