It has been said that the Republicans and Democrats in Congress could look at the same clock and not agree on the time of day. The recent House Judiciary Committee hearing suggests that they might not even agree that it was a clock. From the questions and the comments of the Committee members, it was obvious that they exist in alternative political universes.
The chief witness was Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok, author of the infamous text messages to Lisa Page, his co-worker and co-respondent, in which he assured her that Donald Trump would not be elected president because they could stop him.
That promise – or threat, if you prefer – was significant since Strzok was in a position to help the Hillary Clinton campaign and wound the Trump campaign. Whether he actually did so is the source of all the controversy. The Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the investigations were not corrupted by political biases, although he concluded that Strzok’s biases may have impacted his participation in the investigations and that former FBI Director James Comey had violated agency policies.
Strozk’s mission was to convince the Committee and the American public that, despite his deep hatred for Trump, he never let his feelings influence his work at the FBI. Strzok might have been more convincing had he not expressed his disdain for Trump in such a highly emotional manner. When giving his opinion of the president to the Committee, Strzok could not have verbally and visibly expressed more hatred if he had been channeling MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski or Lawrence O’Donnell.
If you were only to have listened to the Republicans on the Committee, you would have believed that Strzok was, in fact, guilty of heading off an indictment of Hillary Clinton. They referred to his text messages, his actions and the testimony of others to build a credible case. They noted that his expressed biases got him booted from the Mueller investigation team and demoted within the FBI.
If you only listened to the Democrats, you would believe that Strzok was a national hero, whose work at the FBI was a credit to himself and a great service to the nation. Other than high praise, the Democrats did not present much evidence in defense of Strzok. Rather they took advantage of the occasion – and the time allotted to them — to give political speeches delineating everything they dislike about the Trump administration. None of that had anything to do with the purpose of the hearings, of course.
What little decorum was evident at the hearings was often interrupted by heated exchanges between the opposing political forces – acting more like gladiators than legislators. While both sides were attempting to gain points in the verbal pugilism, it was mostly a draw – with both sides looking bad.
Based on the amount of repetition, the hearing should have been concluded in a couple hours. But, it dragged on … and on … and on … into the evening hours. In fact, it might have been more productive had it been held behind closed doors – especially considering the number of times Strzok would not answer a question “in this setting.”
Strzok, himself, presented three personas. At times, he was the lofty orator, giving Fourth of July renditions of the greatness of America, and the fine work of the men and women of the FBI. At other times, he took on the continence of a smug and smarmy jerk with a condescending smirk. And at other times, he was the angry and hateful Democrat – a member-in-good-standing of the #NeverTrump resistance movement. He did not come across as a very likeable person.
The elitist media will give the win to Strzok and the Democrats. That is pre-ordained. In reality, very little was accomplished by the hearings. There was not much information revealed that had not been reported in the media for weeks. It was akin to a bar fight in which no one comes out looking good.