Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, explains his decision to subpoena fired FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok, despite Strzok's offer to testify voluntarily. Strzok was escorted out of FBI headquarters this week, where he was serving disciplinary desk duty amid an internal review of his conduct. The deposition in Congress is set for Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.
Special counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok from his team last summer after an internal investigation revealed Strzok had exchanged text messages with other FBI agents disparaging President Trump. The most incendiary text, in which he tells a fellow FBI official
FOX NEWS, MARIA BARTIROMO: Do you trust that you're getting the accurate information from the Department of Justice on all of this? It baffles the mind that we are just getting this text from the I.G. report, "We will stop him," now, when that was August 8, 2016.
And the text which he sent four days later which was, we need an insurance policy, we have been -- we have had for several months. So there was a text of, "We will stop him" on August 8 which we just learned about from the I.G. report.
I guess my question is, has someone at the DOJ or the FBI been sitting on that text, unwilling to release it, that you had to get it from the I.G. report?
REP. BOB GOODLATTE: That's a great question, Maria, because, in fact, we did get it from the inspector general.
And, in fact, you will recall there were a whole bunch of Strzok-Page texts missing. And it was the inspector general and his folks, using technology, that recovered those texts.
Now, he did explain during the hearing that he recovered the first part of that, and then recently found this second part.
But, obviously, there is a lot of question about the cooperation of the FBI and the Department of Justice because of the concern that there are people still there who do not want some of the information that we need to be provided.
And that's why I issued a subpoena three months ago. That resulted in dramatic changes in how they have responded, to which we now have an office down at the Department of Justice, a reading room, where nearly a million documents now reside. We can examine all of those documents unredacted, identify the ones that we want to have produced.
And they are producing them. For a while, that was not keeping up to speed as well. But they have been scrambling because there's a lot of pressure on them from a lot of members of Congress who have been outspoken about the nonresponsiveness.
We also have other things we have subpoenaed. And since the speaker of the House and I and Trey Gowdy and Devin Nunes met with the leaders of the FBI and the DOJ about this a little over a week ago, a lot more of that information has been forthcoming as well.
But they still have a ways to go. And as this investigation proceeds, there are going to be more things that we identify that we want. And they need to keep it up and need to keep supplying us with this information.
They're in an unusual situation. It is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the nation's most important law enforcement organization, that is being investigated. And their cooperation to restore their reputation and make sure that this sort of thing doesn't happen again is important.
I think the new director, Christopher Wray, gets that. He's been cleaning house there. He's agreed to a lot of the reforms suggested by the inspector general. And he is working diligently to do that.
I mean, the reason that I ask is because there's so much back and forth between the oversight committees, your committee, the Intel Committee, and the Oversight Committee, that are supposed to be overseeing our law enforcement agencies, our intelligence agencies.
And yet there's this fight back and forth about getting documents. Last week on this program, Devin Nunes said, look, you're either part of the cleanup crew or you're part of the cover-up crow.
And I'm just -- I mean, it just -- it feels like you would think everybody is on the same page here, and yet it doesn't feel that way. You would think that even the DOJ and the FBI want to make sure that whatever tainting has happened, whatever reception the public has about what took place in 2016 is cleaned up.
But you're still not getting the texts that you need.
So I have got the response in my hands right now from Devin Nunes' Intel Committee to Rod Rosenstein. And, basically, what it's talking about is the time period before the Trump-Russia collusion investigation was launched.
There are suggestions that, in fact, there was possibly human contact, possibly informants going into the Trump campaign even before this Russia investigation was launched in July 31, 2016.
GOODLATTE: Well, it's deeply concerning.
And we, of course, in our investigation are very disturbed by the connection between these two investigations, the same characters being involved, the disparate way they gave very special treatment to Hillary Clinton.
And, as you say, the questions have arisen about how they have looked into the Trump campaign, including possibly using informants. Lots of questions that are unanswered. The inspector general has launched a new investigation into that second matter.
That's going to take him a long time. We're not waiting. And we're conducting that investigation ourselves in the meantime.
BARTIROMO: Are you expecting Peter Strzok to ask for immunity, to take the Fifth? What are you expecting from Wednesday?
GOODLATTE: I'm expecting honest, forthright answers, because he said that he would be voluntarily appearing before Congress.
I think he wants to tell his story. We want to hear it. If he's trying to claim that he's a victim in this process somehow, we have a lot of questions for him about that too. But the fact of matter is, he is a central figure in both of these investigations. He has a lot of information that it's very important that he share with the American people.
BARTIROMO: This is not...
GOODLATTE: The first interview, however, on Wednesday...
GOODLATTE: ... is a closed deposition.
GOODLATTE: We do plan to have a public hearing in a short while after that.
BARTIROMO: So, I was just going to say, this is not a public hearings. It will be transcribed.
Will the public be able to understand what he says, some of his answers after this -- after this closed meeting?
GOODLATTE: We will have a public hearing in which he will be called to testify and answer questions in public.
This is a deposition. And, of course, there are both classified and unclassified materials involved in this. And this helps us to separate that out.
But the fact the matter is, we want to know what he has to say. We want to know it now. It furthers our investigation. And once we have finished those sorts of interviews, then we're going to have public hearings. And he certainly will be a central figure in those hearings as well.
BARTIROMO: Do any -- does any of this open up the questions of legitimacy of the special counsel's probe?
GOODLATTE: Well, I think that the special counsel was tasked with taking over an investigation that was being run by the FBI.
And the FBI, obviously, with all of these issues, have a lot of problems. There have been questions raised about the special counsel.
But I have always said that they should continue their work. We should conduct oversight. And so I have met with both Mr. Mueller and Mr. Rosenstein periodically during the course of these investigations.
I also think it's been going on an awful long time. Some of the things that Mr. Mueller has uncovered and has indicted people for have nothing to do with the collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
And I think those matters could easily be referred to the United States attorney in the jurisdiction where the crime took place.
GOODLATTE: However, I think that it is also important that, because this casts a shadow over the presidency, that Mr. Mueller be sensitive to that.
And unless he has evidence of that collusion -- and I haven't seen it yet -- that he move toward a conclusion of his investigation.
BARTIROMO: Are you expecting to question Rod Rosenstein, your committee, in the coming week or any time soon, public or private?
We're working very hard to have both Mr. Wray, the new FBI director, and Mr. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who, as most people know, is responsible for the oversight of these investigations because the attorney general, Mr. Sessions, has recused himself.