Rep. Trey Gowdy grills FBI special agent Peter Strzok on a text message he sent promising his girlfriend that "we" could "stop" President Trump from becoming president. The so-called "we’ll stop it" text is one of Strzok’s most controversial. In August 2016, Strzok responded to a message from then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was romantically involved, about Trump's chance of being elected president.
"[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Page texted Strzok.
"No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it," Strzok responded.
He said the message was written in response to a series of events including Trump's "disgusting" insult of the family of a fallen American soldier, Khizr Khan.
"I don't recall writing that text,” Strzok said during Thursday’s open hearing with the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees. “What I can tell you is that text in no way suggested that I or the FBI would take any action to influence the candidacy."
"As I've stated, that text was written late at night, in shorthand," Strzok said.
Gowdy hit back: "I don't care when it was written. I don’t care whether it was long hand, cursive. I don't care about any of that. I want to know what it meant, Agent Strzok."
"You need to understand that that was written late at night, off-the-cuff and it was in response to a series of events that included then-candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero, and my presumption based on that horrible disgusting behavior [was] that the American population would not elect someone demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States," Strzok also said.
REP. TREY GOWDY: Who is the 'He' in 'He’s not'?
PETER STRZOK: "He' is then candidate Trump.
GOWDY: So the question of becoming president,] what’s the 'it'?"
STRZOK: Chairman Gowdy, that text needs to be taken in the context —"
GOWDY: I’m asking — look. If you want to have a debate over a two-letter word, we’re going to have to do that some other time. What and who did you mean by 'it'?"
STRZOK: Mr. Gowdy, as I’ve stated, that text was written late at night in shorthand —
GOWDY: I don’t care when it was written. I don’t care whether it was longhand, cursive. I don’t care about any of that. I want to know what 'it' meant, agent Strzok?
STRZOK: It would be his candidacy for the presidency. And my sense that American population —
GOWDY: It’s not that tough.
STRZOK: — would not vote him into office.
GOWDY: Right, right. Well, we hadn't gotten to the "we'll" yet.
STRZOK: Well, I'm trying to -- I'm trying to explain the text. I wrote it.
GOWDY: Your testimony is the "we'll" is the American people, is that right? That's your testimony, the "we'll stop it," you were speaking on behalf of the American people, is that correct?
STRZOK: Mr. Gowdy, what my testimony is and what I said during extensive asking of this question during my prior interview is I don't recall writing that text. But I can tell you--
GOWDY: Do you deny writing the text?
STRZOK: What I can tell you -- what I can tell you is that text in no way suggested that I or the FBI would take any action to influence the candidacy of [Donald Trump].
GOWDY: Agent -- Agent Strzok, that -- that is a fantastic answer to a question nobody asked.