02:21 - Source: CNN
Rep. Gowdy grills Strzok over text messages
Washington CNN  — 

A Democratic congressman said Thursday that embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok deserves a Purple Heart medal for his testimony in front of a congressional hearing.

“If I could give you a Purple Heart, I would. You deserve one,” Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, told Strzok at the hearing where the FBI agent faced criticism and scrutiny from Republicans over anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with now ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

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The Purple Heart is given to US service members who are wounded or killed in combat. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has described it as “one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the US armed forces,” and “the nation’s oldest military award.”

Cohen went on to say that Thursday’s hearing “has been an attack on you and a way to attack” special counsel Robert Mueller and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Several congressional Republicans criticized the Purple Heart remark on Twitter with Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina calling it an “insult” to recipients of the award.

“The notion that Peter Strzok deserves a ‘purple heart’ is an insult to the honor, valor, and service of men and women who truly earned its recognition,” the North Carolina Republican tweeted on Thursday.

Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, reacted to Meadows’ statement by saying on Twitter that he “could not agree more.”

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler and Elizabeth Landers contributed to this report