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House Judiciary Committee subpoenas FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts

The Hill logo The Hill 6/22/2018 John Bowden
Bob Goodlatte in a suit standing in front of a building © Provided by The Hill

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued a subpoena on Friday commanding FBI agent Peter Strzok to testify before the committee next week, despite Strzok's offer to testify voluntarily.

Strzok's testimony is scheduled to take place on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., according to a press release from the Judiciary Committee.

"The Committees have repeatedly requested to interview Mr. Strzok regarding his role in certain decisions, but he has yet to appear," the statement said. The committee was referring to the joint investigation between the Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examining the FBI's conduct during the 2016 presidential election.

Strzok was one of two FBI officials removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia after it was revealed that he and his colleague, Lisa Page, had sent text messages that were highly critical of then-candidate Trump.

The subpoena comes days after Strzok's lawyer Aitan Goelman wrote to Goodlatte telling him that a subpoena was "wholly unnecessary" and that Strzok would comply voluntarily with the Judiciary panel's request for testimony.

"While you are, of course, free to continue pursuing this process, it is wholly unnecessary," Goelman wrote in the letter.

"Special Agent Strzok, who has been fully cooperative with the [Justice Department] Office of Inspector General, intends to voluntarily appear and testify before your committee and any other Congressional committee that invites him," he added.

Committee member Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) said earlier on Friday that a subpoena would likely be "necessary" to compel Strzok to comply with the Judiciary panel.

"It's my understanding that Chairman Goodlatte will be subpoenaing him very soon," Chabot said on Hill.TV's "Rising." "Maybe a subpoena won't be necessary, but it looks like it probably will."

In an interview with The Washington Post publishedSunday, Goelman indicated that Strzok was willing to testify before Congress without immunity in an effort to clear his name. Goelman told the post that Strzok felt his "position, character and actions" had been maligned.

The former FBI agent and Page, with whom he had been romantically involved when the text messages were exchanged, were top targets of Republicans after the revelation that they had been removed from Mueller's investigation.

The text exchange was made public in a scathing report released earlier this month from the Justice Department's (DOJ) internal watchdog. The report, which examined FBI and DOJ conduct during the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, set off a firestorm among Republicans who said the text messages between Strzok and Page were evidence of anti-Trump machinations at the FBI.

"[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Page asked in a text to Strzok in August 2016.

"No. No he won't. We'll stop it," Strzok responded, according to the report.

"FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who headed the Clinton & Russia investigations, texted to his lover Lisa Page, in the IG Report, that 'we'll stop' candidate Trump from becoming President," the president tweeted after the texts were released to the media. "Doesn't get any lower than that!"

Goelman said Tuesday that Strzok had been escorted out of the FBI amid an internal review of his conduct.

--Updated 6:48 p.m.

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