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INSIDE POLITICS

Coverage of Peter Strzok Testifying at House Committee Hearing. Aired 12n-12:30p ET

Aired July 12, 2018 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00]

STRZOK: Yes, sir. And, again, my impression, not stated by him, but my impression was that based on the appearance of those messages and, in part, of a desire by him to avoid even the appearance of any potential bias, that he asked me to return. But that's a question for him.

GOODLATTE: But he kept everyone else on the investigation.

STRZOK: Sir, I don't know the staffing decisions that were made by Director Mueller after I departed.

GOODLATTE: Including 13 Democrats.

STRZOK: Sir, I don't know the affiliation of the people on his team.

GOODLATTE: So, but he was concerned enough about your texts to remove you, but you never felt concerned enough to remove yourself.

STRZOK: That's correct.

GOODLATTE: Mr. Strzok, you're going to get asked other questions here that relate to your transition from the investigation of Ms. Clinton into the beginnings of this investigation into the Trump campaign and the alleged collusion with the Russian government.

Now Mr. Strzok, the FBI is a creation of this body. Congress created the FBI with its Constitutional authority. Today, you are here under subpoena. I know you've come voluntarily in your opinion, but you're also under subpoena, also an exercise of Congress' Constitutional authority. Which takes precedence: FBI policy or the United States Constitution?

STRZOK: Sir, always, the United States Constitution. My understanding is I am not here under subpoena; that I am here voluntarily. I understand a subpoena was issued for my prior closed interview, but not for this session today.

GOODLATTE: A -- a subpoena was issued, and -- and service of which was accepted.

STRZOK: That's not my understanding, sir.

GOODLATTE: In a Supreme Court case handed down just last year, the Court reviewed whether statements made by a juror that indicated racial bias required the piercing of jury deliberations. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion of the court holding that racial bias exhibited by juror provided an exception to the rule that jury deliberations must remain confidential, because it is necessary, quote, "to ensure that our legal system remains capable of coming ever closer to the promise of equal treatment under the law that is so central to a functioning democracy."

On several occasions, you have referenced that all the texts and the questions were simply personal opinions exchanged with a close confidante, and in no way reflected your intent to act on your opinions. Yet, if you made these statements while on a jury, it is hard to imagine that you would not be kicked off immediately because of the risk that your bias would undermine a functioning democracy. Do you still hold that personal opinions, even in the face of Supreme Court precedent, should not have tainted your involvement on any investigation relating to Secretary Clinton or President Trump?

STRZOK: Mr. Chairman, I think you're mixing apples and oranges. My -- my -- I'm not an attorney, and I -- I -- I'm not familiar with that Supreme Court ruling. But based on what you said, protected categories, things like race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, are protected matters that we may not -- the government, and by law, people may not be discriminated against based on their role, one way or the other, in any one of those categories. That is entirely separate and distinct from political belief or political opinion.

That, on the other hand, is encouraged, is protected by the First Amendment, and this body, under the Hatch Act, my understanding is sad and said, and recognize (inaudible)...

GOODLATTE: No one stopped you from sending the texts, Mr. Strzok, but the special counsel, Mr. Mueller, removed you from the investigation when he saw the texts.

STRZOK: That's -- that's true, sir. He did. Now, if I may go back to answering your question, if I may, in terms of political speech, that is radically different from any sort of protected category of race, gender and ethnicity or other categories. Political speech, political thought is protected. The courts have recognized -- the Constitution recognizes we all have political belief and so when it comes to the expression of that political belief, that is something that this body under the Hatch Act enumerated kind of the categories of what was prohibited, and then expressly stated that if it is not prohibited, then it is expressly encouraged.

So I would tell you that no one in here -- it -- it's an impossible definition to say people must not have political opinion. Everyone does. Of course they do. The test is whether or not that is left behind when you are doing your job. To your question of whether or not I would express that in front of a jury, of course, I wouldn't. That would be inappropriate.

As to your question of whether each and every one of those jurors, when they go home and they're sitting in the backyard with a friend, has a political opinion, my answer would be undoubtedly, almost if not all of those jurors would.

GOODLATTE: But they're instructed when they leave the jury panel each day to not communicate with anyone regarding the matter that they are considering. So that is a very different thing. You are considering a matter and you were conducting texts of a very biased, salacious manner that was totally inappropriate, and when Mr. Mueller saw that, he removed you.

STRZOK: Sir, I appreciate the concern, but what I'm telling you is there is a vast difference in my mind between an action as a juror being instructed by a judge not to discuss the matters of the trial compared to a citizen of the United States...

GOODLATTE: ... you don't suppose there's a reason why...

STRZOK: ...discussing his...

GOODLATTE: You don't suppose there's a reason why that instruction (ph)?

The chair recognizes the gentleman from New York, Mr. Nadler.

NADLER: Thank you.

Let me begin by congratulating the witness on his completely correct statement of the key First Amendment law, that people are entitled to political opinions. Now, you, sir, obviously expressed your political opinions as to Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton and various others in text messages to Lisa Page.

STRZOK: I did.

NADLER: And she to you.

STRZOK: Yes.

NADLER: And these are private political opinions?

STRZOK: Yes.

NADLER: Which you did not express publicly?

STRZOK: Correct.

NADLER: And the inspector general found with respect to the investigation to Hillary, quote, "we found no evidence of the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations. Rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutor's assessment of the facts, the law and past department practices." That is correct that that is a finding of the I.G., no?

STRZOK: Yes, sir.

NADLER: Thank you. And with respect to the Russia investigation, the I.G. said that they would -- that he was disturbed by the appearance that investigative decisions might have -- might be impacted by bias, but made no such findings, and in fact, hadn't completed his investigation of the Russian investigation. Is that correct?

STRZOK: Yes, sir.

NADLER: Now, when he -- when -- when people talk about the appearance, whether people on this panel or the inspector general the appearance of bias created by those text messages, those text messages might create the appearance of bias only if they're public. Is that not correct?

STRZOK: That is correct.

NADLER: Because otherwise there'd be no appearance.

STRZOK: That's correct.

NADLER: And they were not intended to be public were they?

STRZOK: Correct.

NADLER: They were communications between two private individuals.

STRZOK: True.

NADLER: Which are totally permitted?

STRZOK: That's correct.

NADLER: Now, are FBI agents permitted to have political opinions?

STRZOK: Yes.

NADLER: And as a 22 year veteran of the FBI, could you tell us without naming names, were you familiar with the fact -- with other FBI -- other FBI -- with other FBI personnel having political opinions with respect to the presidential campaign?

STRZOK: I was.

NADLER: And were some of these people anti-Trump?

STRZOK: They were.

NADLER: And were some of these people pro-Trump?

STRZOK: Yes.

NADLER: Thank you. And to your knowledge, did any of the pro-Trump bias or the anti-Trump bias and personal opinions affect decisions and investigations by the FBI?

STRZOK: Not to my knowledge.

NADLER: OK. Now, you mentioned the Hatch Act.

STRZOK: Yes.

NADLER: Under the Hatch Act, the FBI is prohibited, is it not, from inquiring as to the political opinions of people it is hiring?

STRZOK: I don't know the Hatch Act well enough to tell you.

NADLER: Well, I'll say that that is the case. The government may not under the Hatch Act, inquire as to the political opinions of people it is hiring for nonexempt positions; to do so would be improper. And I must say that I think that all of these inquiries about your political opinions as revealed by these text messages are irrelevant and wrong unless it can be shown, as it has not been shown, as was found definitively not to be the case of the Hillary investigation, and has not been shown in the Russia investigation that they affected any decisions in the investigation. Let's leave it at that on that point.

Now, Mr. Strzok, what is the FBI -- what is the FBI's policy - oh, let me say one other thing, it is prudent -- and I'll observe this because you don't -- you said you couldn't answer -- but it's obviously prudent of Mr. Mueller in finding these text -- and hearing about all these text messages, to think that they might be subject to incorrect interpretations on publicity and in order to avoid the kind of attacks on this investigation that we are seeing from Republican members of this committee and from the administration, to ask you to leave that investigation, having nothing to do with your competence or fairness to the investigation, but simply to somewhat insulate that investigation from unfair attacks.

Would you think that that might be a correct ...?

STRZOK: Yes.

NADLER: Thank you. Now, Mr. Strzok, what is the FBI's policy with respect to its agents commenting publicly about an ongoing criminal investigation?

STRZOK: We don't do that.

NADLER: Sorry?

STRZOK: We do not do that.

NADLER: And why is that policy in place?

STRZOK: I think for a variety of reasons. One, I think it is inherently unfair to the subject of that investigation. It can to skew the conduct of the investigation, other witnesses, other future investigative avenues. It can skew potential jurors in the event a case is taken to prosecution. I can think of any number of reasons why we don't do that.

NADLER: And are you -- thank you -- are you familiar with the inspector general's report on the FBI's handling of the Clinton investigation?

STRZOK: I am.

NADLER: In that report was highly critical of Director Comey, was it not, for, among other things, departing from protocol and commenting publicly about an ongoing criminal investigation?

STRZOK: It did say that, yes.

NADLER: It was critical of him?

STRZOK: Yes.

NADLER: And -- for doing that? And although some people have said that they don't agree with the decision not to charge Mrs. Clinton, in fact, the departure from protocol was directed -- the first departure from protocol I should say was Director Comey's commenting on his opinion about her handling of various emails and so forth. Having decided after she wasn't being charged, his departing from protocol, his publicly commenting about that, was that not one of the deviations from protocol cited by the report?

STRZOK: By the report, yes, sir.

NADLER: Thank you. Has the FBI asked you to adhere to that policy of not commenting on ongoing criminal investigations, namely the Russia investigation, for example, today?

STRZOK: Yes.

NADLER: How so?

STRZOK: They instructed me, my understanding is, that general counsel for the FBI met with Chairman Goodlatte and his staff and came up with an approved list of topics that I might speak about and that outside of that list, that I was not to discuss anything having to do with ongoing investigations.

NADLER: Thank you, and I will simply observe that asking you or anybody else, like Mr. Rosenstein, to comment on ongoing criminal investigations is against policy and is liable to taint those investigations and to damage the reputations of people or to even endanger the safety of informants, as you have said.

Mr. Strzok, you're an experienced counterintelligence official. Can you explain why, briefly -- because I think you touched on this in Mr. Cumming's questions -- why the investigation to the Russian government's attack on our elections and other critical infrastructure is important to our national security?

STRZOK: I think it's extraordinarily important because of what it represents. We -- the selection of our nation's leader, of the chief executive, of the person who is charges with the defense of the United States, the national security of the United States, whether that's militarily or economic, there is no greater responsibility in the land.

And the way we do that, the underpinning of what we are in America, the election, is the process by which we do that. So the idea that a -- not only a foreign nation, but an advanced, hostile foreign nation would be inserting themselves clandestinely in that process to undermine the will of the United States is terrible. NADLER: And is -- thank you. And is that why you thought it important to prioritize in -- and I think it was in October of 2016, the Russian investigation and leave Hillary -- leave Mr. Weiner's laptop to someone else you asked to -- to look into it?

STRZOK: The first reason I did it is because the director told me to. The director said it was a top priority which was relayed from him and AD Priestap, and the second thing was, yes, clearly when you're looking into allocation of resources based on the threat to national security, the Russian influence investigation were a much greater impact than a mishandling of classified information investigation.

NADLER: Thank you. And the -- but the first reason is the director told you to.

STRZOK: Yes sir.

NADLER: Thank you. How frequently does the FBI engage in counterintelligence operations against foreign powers?

STRZOK: Every day.

NADLER: All the time.

STRZOK: Yes, sir.

NADLER: And how frequently does the FBI investigate a possible conspiracy between a presidential candidate or campaign and a hostile foreign power?

STRZOK: It's the first one I can remember in my lifetime.

NADLER: So it is fair -- is it fair to say that we are unprecedented territory?

STRZOK: I -- speaking from my experience, that's fair.

NADLER: Speaking from your experience...

STRZOK: From my experience in the FBI, I can't...

NADLER: Yes?

STRZOK: Yes, sir.

NADLER: And is it fair to say that our country faced and is possibly still facing a grave threat from a hostile foreign power?

STRZOK: It is.

NADLER: Thank you. I think that is correct, Mr. Strzok. We know that Russia, after successfully interfering with our last elections, is actively working to disrupt the upcoming elections in 2018. We are told this by all of our intelligence agencies, all of whom still stand by their 2017 assessment that the Russian government waged a complex campaign to influence the 2016 election to the benefit of President Trump.

Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, on a bipartisan basis, confirmed this assessment. And the Director of National Intelligence testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about an even more urgent threat. Quote, "There should be no doubt that Russia perceive that its past efforts are successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian midterm operations," close quote.

And what is the majority's response to this problem? To launch an investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails and to do as much as they can to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller, who is running what is perhaps the most consequential national security investigation of this generation.

When they aren't bullying you and Mrs. Page -- and Ms. Page, Mr. Strzok, the Republicans are usually taking aim at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. And just as they insist on asking you questions about an ongoing investigation, questions you cannot answer, the majority insists on demanding some of the most sensitive information in the Deputy Attorney General's position -- possession, documents he cannot provide for the same reason.

They want copies, for example, of the scoping (ph) documents that lay out the special counsel's exact lines of inquiry, so to disclose it (ph) would be dangerous and unprecedented. Republicans are in effect demanding the DOJ violate the very policies the Inspector General criticized the department for violating in 2016.

This is incredibly inappropriate and dangerous, and we are forced to ask ourselves, "Why?" Why have House Republicans been so dismissive of Russia's attacks on the United States? Why are Republicans so intent on destroying public confidence in the Justice Department and in the special prosecutor -- special counsel's investigation? Why have they abandoned House rules to pick totally unnecessary fights with you, Mr. Strzok, with Lisa Page, and with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein?

The obvious answer is because they are scared. Because President Trump is scared. Because the special counsel's investigation is operating at a breakneck pace and has already produced five guilty pleas and criminal charges against 23 individuals and entities. Because accountability is coming, one way or another, and they are scared and they are trying to undermine the investigation and to distract attention.

Now I must say the basis of many of these questions that we're hearing today of Mr. Strzok by the majority, by the Republicans, is the 11- hour interview with Mr. Strzok. And I now call upon the majority to release that transcript in full today. This will show that this is the entire joint investigation is at best a partisan distraction from more important matters. But the -- but the witness before us today, Mr. Strzok, testified not under confidentiality but -- not under confidentiality rules, but in private for 11 hours.

There is nothing that prevents the majority from releasing that transcript. Selected portions of that transcript have been leaked by members of the majority. Misleading portions taken out of context, and I -- I -- I don't know if demand is the right word, but I demand it so far as I can, that that transcript be released in full so that people can see it, can see the testimony today, and can make better judgments.

And I ask the chairman now to order the release of that transcript. Will the chairman do so?

GOODLATTE: Not today.

NADLER: Will the chairman ever do so?

GOODLATTE: The -- the -- you can direct your questions to the witness. That's your time to do that, not to discuss this.

(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman...

(CROSSTALK)

NADLER: I will observe that the chairman will not answer the question and that this is part of the continuing evasion and attempt at -- at obfuscation, because we know (ph)...

(CROSSTALK)

(UNKNOWN): Will the gentleman yield?

NADLER: No, not at the moment. I will in a moment...

(CROSSTALK)

(UNKNOWN): Very good (ph).

NADLER: ...when I finish the sentence. Because we know the pattern. And the pattern is we're not releasing transcripts except parts of them that may create -- that may convey the full -- the impression, false or true, that we want to create -- convey. There is no legal reason why this transcript should not be released. There is no -- there is only a partisan reason why this transcript should not be released. There is no valid reason why it shall -- should not be released.

If there was a purpose to our -- to our inquiries, to our spending 11 hours, they -- there's no reason they shouldn't be released. I yield now.

GOODLATTE: I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I would just say that it is very customary in investigations to keep transcripts of private interviews until the conclusion of the investigation. This investigation certainly hasn't concluded, and it is very appropriate that the -- the questions that were asked are -- and the answers given are not shared --

NADLER: Are you claiming -- are you claim...

GOODLATTE: -- with other potential witnesses. NADLER: Were you claiming my time the (ph) -- I am observe -- I will observe that many of the same questions are being asked today, number one, but number two, given the fact that selective portions of the transcript have been leaked, I think that -- that changes it. I'll yield to Mr. Cicilline.

CICILLINE: I was just going to inquire. I've, sort of, been trying to get the answer to this question, but to the extent that this transcript is available to all of us. I intend to release it. I can't find any prohibition that makes us unable to release it in our rules.

We now have the same witness after 11 hours here in a public hearing. So, the notion that we have to, somehow, keep this secret while pieces of it (ph) are being released. They're doing a real disservice to the American people. And I'm asking the Ranking Member, is there any reason, this afternoon, I can't just release it as a member of this committee?

GOODLATTE: Would the Ranking Member yield?

NADLER: Let me -- one second. I'm not aware of any, but I'd have to look at the House rules and all. I will yield.

GOODLATTE: I thank the gentleman for yielding. It is correct that, both, members on the Republican side and the Democratic side have use quotations from the transcript for the purpose of interview in a hearing. And that is a legitimate use of the transcript.

NADLER: And I'm reclaiming my time. Some members have also used it for the purpose of talking to the news media. And that may be or may not be an appropriate use, but be (inaudible) the transcript should be released. I yield back.

RASKIN: Would the gentleman yield?

NADLER: Who -- yes, I'll yield to the gentleman from Maryland.

RASKIN: I'd like to ask the Ranking Member if it's legitimate within the rules of the committee and the House of Representatives for members to release certain portions of the overall transcript, is there anything that would prevent us from releasing the entire transcript?

NADLER: I'm unaware of anything that would -- off the top of my head, that would prevent a member from releasing the transcript, but I -- but that's off the top of my head. I wouldn't want to -- I wouldn't want to say that definitively.

CICILLINE: Mr. Chairman, are you aware of anything that would preclude us from doing that?

GOODLATTE: Yes, the decision is made by the Chairman of the committee.

NADLER: Let me -- before I yield back, let me just say. We don't want -- we don't want.

CICILLINE: Mr. Chairman. Would you clarify...

(CROSSTALK)

NADLER: We don't want portions released. That's wrong.

CICILLINE: I'm not going to practice (ph) having the Chairman of the committee make decisions for me. So, could you explain to me...

NADLER: I'm reclaiming.

CICILLINE: ...is there a rule that precludes me from this afternoon, releasing this transcript? If it's just your preference I don't, that's not sufficient enough.

GOODLATTE: This is a conduct of investigation (ph). The Chair of the two committees are conducting that investigation. We will decide when transcripts of private interviews are going to be released and...

NADLER: Reclaim -- go ahead.

GOODLATTE: ...no one on this side of the aisle has released it other than to ask a question based upon it in the hearing which is an appropriate use of it.

NADLER: Reclaiming my time.

(CROSSTALK)

NADLER: I'm reclaiming...

CICILLINE: We could release it as part of this hearing.

NADLER: ...reclaiming -- reclaiming my time. I will observe that some members have released parts of the transcript by being quoted in the media not for questions here. Does the gentleman from Rhode Island still want time?

CICILLINE: I just have a unanimous consent request. I'd ask unanimous consent that the transcript of this -- with this (ph) be made an official part of this record in its entirety.

(UNKNOWN): I object.

GOODLATTE: Objection is heard.

NADLER: I'll -- I'll.

(UNKNOWN): Role call vote.

(CROSSTALK)

NADLER: I yield to the gentleman from Rhode Island.

CICILLINE: I thank the gentleman for yielding. Again, Mr. Chairman, I think this of tremendous interest to the American people. There's an effort here to, sort of, characterize this witness' behavior. Much ado (ph) has been made of it.

We had an 11 hour hearing in which this very same witness has testified. He's now testifying consistently before the American people. There is, it seems to me (ph), no good reason other than a personal preference of some, apparently, that this transcript not be released.

And I would to the Chairman respectfully, if there is no prohibition, the fact that you would prefer we not is insufficient to persuade me and I think Mr. Raskin. And we intend to release this transcript unless someone presents us with some rule under our House proceedings or this committee that prevents us from doing it. And we'll give you until five o'clock this afternoon to present that, otherwise we intend to release the transcript.

NADLER: Reclaiming -- reclaiming my time. I'll, simply, I -- I want (ph) to associate myself with the remarks of the gentleman from Rhode Island. I would -- I would agree with him. I think it would be a public service to release these transcripts. That's why I demanded they be released. There is no good reason not to. And at this point, I think I'll yield back the balance of my time.

GOODLATTE: If so, the Chair wants to respond to the gentleman from Rhode Island. First of all...

NADLER: Then I will (ph) yield back the balance of my time.

GOODLATTE: ...first of all, there was a -- an agreement in the interview that it was private, confidential, and that it would not be released. So, that is not going to take place under this -- this set of circumstances.

NADLER: Reclaiming.

GOODLATTE: Secondly, if the gentleman -- we're here investigating irregularities conducted in investigations by the FBI. If the gentleman wants to perpetuate that by creating irregularities here and releasing questions so that other potential future witnesses can an -- can -- can read the question before they're asked, that is, in my opinion, exactly what many on the gentleman's side of the aisle have been all about, attempting to disrupt this investigation and this hearing process...

NADLER: Reclaim.

GOODLATTE: ...from start to finish.

NADLER: Reclaiming...

(UNKNOWN): Will the gentleman yield?

NADLER: ...reclaiming my time. Mr. Strzok.

RASKIN: Would the gentleman yield?

NADLER: ...reclaiming my time. (UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, I object.

(UNKNOWN): He's yielded his time three times.

NADLER: Mr. Strzok, would you object to the release of the transcript of the -- of that hearing?

STRZOK: No, I would not object.

NADLER: Thank you. I will observe, then, that the minority -- the Chairman says that there was an agreement not, you know, on the conduct of that hearing. The minority was not a party to that agreement. There may have been an agreement between Mr. Gowdy and Mr. Goodlatte, but at no point were we asked.

GOODLATTE: It was stated on the record in there.

NADLER: No -- it was stated as a decision, as a fact, as a (inaudible) plea. We were not asked. We agreed to nothing because we were not asked. And we think that the transcript ought to be released for the reason -- for the -- for the reasons stated. And if the witness doesn't object, I don't know why the majority should object. I yield to Mr. Meadows.

MEADOWS: If the gentleman will yield? In earnest, I will be glad to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle about releasing all relevant information. I mean, I think if we're -- we're talking about full transparency, let's talk about full transparency in a variety of other things.

You know, it's -- it's interesting, we want to release one thing, but yet, we're somehow allowing Peter Strzok to suggest that there's a whole lot of things that are off the record. And so, but I will work in earnest with -- with my colleagues (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

NADLER: I -- I -- I appreciate the gentleman and let me, simply, say that we are not disrupting a legitimate investigation into the investigation. The Republican investigation...

(CROSSTALK)

MEADOWS: But it is a release of information...

NADLER: ...is intended to...

MEADOWS: ...of a legitimate investigation.

NADLER: ...and is trying to -- to disrupt the investigation into the Russian interference in our election by the Special Counsel.

GOODLATTE: Will the gentleman yield?

NADLER: That's what's really at stake. I yield back. GOODLATTE: The gentleman yields back. All right, so now that the Chairman and the Ranking Member have had ample time to ask questions and I think that the gentleman from New York has the record, we are going to move, because we have 72 more members who have questions to ask, to strict adherence to the five minute rule. And we'll begin by recognizing the gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Sensenbrenner for five minutes.

SENSENBRENNER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me observe that, you know, there have been all kinds of complaints about leaking transcripts and things like that. One of the reasons we are here, today, is because there has been a flood of leaks out of the Justice Department about what is going on.

Barely a day goes by when you can't pick up the newspaper and find out that it's rumor this and rumor that. And then, we have a witness from the FBI that comes up here and says', oh, no, we can't talk about that, here, to the Congress which has constitutional oversight responsibility because it's against our rules.

Well, I hope there'd be a few prosecutions of people out of Justice that have been leaking this stuff to the various news media.

Now, I want to get to looking at statutes. You know, you look at rules. I've been looking at statutes, and somehow along the line, in the report, the conclusions of the Clinton investigation, the word "gross negligence" was changed to "extremely careless" in determining Mrs. Clinton's handling of classified information. Now, "gross negligence" would mean that it would subject her to criminal liability. "Extremely careless" would have the opposite effect. It would not. So I'd like to ask you, Mr. Strzok, a couple questions about that.

In the original May 2 draft of the statement that Director Comey was making, he characterized Mrs. Clinton's actions as grossly negligent. Is that correct?

STRZOK: That's my recollection, yes.

SENSENBRENNER: Yes. Are you aware that "gross negligence" was changed to "extremely careless" in the eventual statement?

STRZOK: Yes.

SENSENBRENNER: OK. Now, do you recall that the June 6 -- 6, 2016 meeting attended by you and Mr. Rybicki, Ms. Moyer, Mr. Moffa and Lisa Page to discuss the language of the statute on whether to use "grossly negligent" or something else in the draft statement. What was discussed at that meeting?

STRZOK: So sir, I don't remember that specific meeting. There are a variety of meetings with a bunch of people that included discussion of this concern.

SENSENBRENNER: OK. Did the alternative phrase "extremely careless" come up at the meeting? STRZOK: It -- it did at some point, sir. I don't know if it was during that meeting, or at another one. I -- I don't remember that specifically.

SENSENBRENNER: Who -- well, whenever it happened, who brought it up?

STRZOK: My recollection, sir, is that somebody within our Office of General Counsel did. It was one of the attorneys. I don't remember which one.

SENSENBRENNER: OK. You -- you don't remember who did.

STRZOK: No, I -- it was a...

SENSENBRENNER: OK.

STRZOK: ... it was a legal issue that one of the attorneys brought up.

[12:30:00]

SENSENBRENNER: OK. Now immediately after that meeting, metadata shows that you modified the draft statement on June 6th. Is this when the phrase "grossly negligent" was changed to "extremely careless"?