The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena Tuesday for former top FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok’s public testimony next week, after Strzok’s lawyer accused the panel of subjecting his client to “Kabuki theater” and threatened to prevent Strzok from showing up.
The subpoena is an attempt to force Strzok to appear before the committee on July 10, a date upon which Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, has already said he is not available. In a statement, Goelman said that Strzok would testify publicly at some point but would not commit to doing so on that date or before the Judiciary Committee.
“If the committees were actually interested in making sure the American people knew the truth, they would release the transcript of Pete’s previous testimony,” Goelman said. “Pete wants the American people to hear his testimony for themselves, instead of having his words leaked, twisted and mischaracterized by members of Congress. The only question is when and before what committee.”
Strzok has come under scrutiny for a series of anti-Trump texts he sent to former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair. The texts included disparaging comments about then-candidate Donald Trump and his supporters, and included one message in which Strzok told Page that “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president.
During a closed-door grilling last week, Strzok told lawmakers that his personal political opinions never had any effect on the FBI’s investigations into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server or the possibility of Russian ties to the Trump campaign, probes in which he played a leading role. Republicans said they did not find the argument that bias could not have influenced the investigations plausible.
Strzok is undergoing internal review at the FBI over his conduct.
In a sharply worded email to committee counsels, Goelman accused Republican members of the panel of trying to “trap” Strzok with a public hearing that they initially denied him until he first spoke to members behind closed doors. Goelman surmised that the Republicans would try to “seize on any tiny inconsistencies” between Strzok’s private and public testimony “to ‘prove’ that he perjured himself or made false statements.”
“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,” Goelman said.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) responded by issuing the subpoena for Strzok’s testimony. Though the scheduled July 10 hearing will involve both the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, only the Judiciary Committee issued the subpoena.