“Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” Strzok is expected to say, according to a copy of his draft statement obtained by CNN. “(T)he fact is, after months of investigations, there is simply no evidence of bias in my professional actions.”
Thursday’s hearing is poised to be one of the most contentious in Congress so far tied to the Russia investigation, as Republicans will get the chance to grill one of the key FBI officials they have accused of misconduct.
Strzok is expected to vigorously defend himself.
“In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign,” Strzok plans to say. “This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.”
According to a draft of Strzok’s statement he plans to fire back: “This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax.”
“(T)he honest truth is that Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy. Most disturbingly, it has been wildly successful — sowing discord in our nation and shaking faith in our institutions,” reads his draft statement. “I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”
Page was subpoenaed to appear for a closed-door interview on Wednesday but defied the subpoena, saying she had not been given sufficient time to review the materials related to her testimony.
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who issued the subpoena, had threatened to begin contempt proceedings but told Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday morning that Page had agreed to an interview Friday. The office of the House Judiciary’s top Democrat, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, said Page was not expected to attend Thursday’s public hearing.
Her attorney confirmed to CNN she will be interviewed on Friday.
Democratic sources say Strzok came off as a credible witness during the interview and he was successful at rebutting the Republican attacks on him.
Ahead of the hearing, Nadler and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, issued a statement Wednesday knocking the questions Republicans had asked of Strzok in the closed session, including queries on his extramarital affair with Page and his vote in 2016.
“This investigation is a political charade — a platform to elevate far-right conspiracy theories and undermine the special counsel’s ongoing criminal investigation of the President and his campaign aides,” Nadler and Cummings said.
But Democrats face their own hurdles with Thursday’s hearing, as they will be put in the position of defending Strzok.
While they took the same mantle defending the FBI and Justice Department when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein faced off with House Republicans at a hearing last month, Strzok’s text messages will be more difficult to defend, and he was faulted by the Justice Department inspector general for his political bias.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.
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