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Todays Top Stories and Opinions | Fox News

GOP Rep. Gohmert unloads on ‘smirking’ Strzok: ‘How many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her?’
By Gregg Re | Fox News

An already raucous hours-long Congressional hearing into FBI agent Peter Strzok’s apparent anti-Trump bias boiled over on Thursday afternoon, as a top Republican asked the “smirking” Strzok whether he was lying under oath the same way he “lied” to his wife while he carried on an affair with now-former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

“The disgrace is what this man has done to our justice system,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, shouted over objections by Democrats. “I can’t help but wonder, when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page?”


(R) Rep Louie Gohmert questioning Peter Strzok

Democrats immediately erupted into more objections, with one yelling, “Mr. Chairman, this is intolerable harassment of the witness” and another calling out, “You need your medication.”

Strzok and Page exchanged numerous text messages on their FBI-issued phones expressing hostility toward then-candidate Trump in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, even as Strzok was a lead investigator on the Hillary Clinton and Russian meddling probes.

The two also communicated on their work phones to hide their affair from their spouses, according to a bombshell report released last month by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

American Majority CEO Ned Ryun and Democratic strategist Kevin Walling on FBI official Peter Strzok’s testimony on Capitol Hill.

FBI LOVEBIRDS USED WORK PHONES TO HIDE AFFAIR, IG FINDS

Page had been expected to testify Wednesday in a closed-door session, but backed out at the last minute, saying she needed more time to prepare. She is now expected to interview privately on Friday with GOP leaders.

Gohmert’s question was just one of several tense moments in the hearing, the Republicans’ first opportunity to question the embattled FBI agent publicly. Democrats frequently interrupted the proceedings during questioning by GOP representatives.

At one point, Republicans threatened Strzok with contempt for initially refusing to answer questions on the Russia probe. Strzok stated that he maintains a top secret security clearance, despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier saying that he believed Strzok’s security credentials had been revoked.

Strzok, throughout it all, remained defiant and maintained that he did not show bias in those infamous messages with Page — saying that while he had his own political opinions, they did not impact his official investigative actions.

However, Strzok did express “significant regret” for the problems caused by his frequent anti-Trump texts.

Republicans sharply disputed that Strzok’s political views didn’t amount to bias, with Rep. Darrell Issa later making Strzok read examples of those texts aloud. Among them, Strzok read one message in which he called Trump a “disaster,” and another calling him an “idiot.”

FIREWORKS AT STRZOK HEARING, AS GOP LEADERS THREATEN CONTEMPT

Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee says Republican attacks on the anti-Trump FBI agent are an attempt to undermine the Russian collusion investigation.The initial contempt threat surfaced after House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., questioned “how many witnesses” Strzok interviewed before an August 2016 text from Strzok to Page stating “we’ll stop” then-candidate Trump from becoming president.

Strzok said he was not able to answer the question based on instructions from FBI counsel. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., rejected Strzok’s claim.

“Mr. Strzok, you are under subpoena and required to answer the question,” Goodlatte said.

“I don’t give a damn what you appreciate, Agent Strzok.”
– Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
This touched off a heated dispute. Judiciary Ranking Member Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., blasted Goodlatte for putting Strzok in an “impossible position,” while Strzok claimed he was there voluntarily. Goodlatte said Strzok could consult only with his own attorney, not the FBI’s.

Several other committee members chimed in, blasting top Republicans on the committee, with Nadler even motioning to adjourn the hearing all together.

Gowdy also tore into Strzok at the opening of Thursday’s hearing, saying he showed “textbook bias” on the job. The rhetoric later escalated into a heated exchange in which Strzok claimed he was kicked off Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe because of “perception,” not because of bias.

After Strzok said he didn’t “appreciate” how Gowdy was characterizing those events, the congressman fired back: “I don’t give a damn what you appreciate, Agent Strzok.”

However, there were moments for Congressional Democrats to lend some support for Strzok, beyond objecting to Republican questions. Nadler later formally requested a hearing with former top Trump strategist Steve Bannon. And, amid a fracas between Gowdy and Strzok, Rep. Watson Coleman, D-NJ, told Gowdy to “leave this alone; this isn’t Benghazi.”

At one point, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., even suggested that Strzok, a former Army officer, deserved a Purple Heart for his service to the country.

 

Todays Top Stories and Opinions | CNN

Trump picks Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court
By Eric Bradner, Joan Biskupic and Jeremy Diamond | CNN

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to join the US Supreme Court, setting the stage for a dramatic confirmation battle over a stalwart conservative who could shape the direction of the court for decades to come.

If confirmed, Kavanaugh would replace a frequent swing vote on the bench, retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often sided with his liberal colleagues on issues such as abortion, affirmative action and LGBT rights.
Kavanaugh, 53, is a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and Yale Law School graduate who previously served in both Bush administrations. He also worked on independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton.

“What matters is not a judge’s political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require. I am pleased to say I have found without doubt such a person,” Trump said as he announced Kavanaugh’s nomination at the White House Monday evening.

Trump called Kavanaugh “one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time,” saying he is “considered a judge’s judge and a true thought leader among his peers.”
close dialog

“Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,” Trump said.

Kavanaugh will begin meeting with senators on Tuesday.

He has never expressed outright opposition to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal nationwide, and similarly has no record on gay rights and same-sex marriage, but he will face tough questions from Democrats on both issues. Kavanaugh has also suggested that presidents be shielded from civil and criminal litigation until they leave office, an issue that could be front and center as Trump faces the investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller and potential civil challenges.

“If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case,” Kavanaugh said Monday at the White House.

GOP hoping for quick confirmation

The nomination is Trump’s second to the nation’s highest court, a rare presidential privilege that could seal a key part of Trump’s legacy less than two years into his first term.

Trump last week spoke with seven candidates, all drawn from a shortlist compiled by the conservative Federalist Society, about the Supreme Court. The nomination also comes just before the President leaves for a critical trip to Britain, a

NATO summit in Belgium and a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White House is hoping the Senate moves quickly to confirm Kavanaugh before the midterm elections in November threaten to unfurl the narrow Republican majority in the chamber and nix the precious leverage the GOP holds over some red state Democrats up for reelection in 2018.

Democrats are warning that Trump’s nominee would jeopardize some of progressives’ most important policy priorities in recent decades — including rulings that legalized abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Republicans hold 51 seats in the Senate, though Arizona Sen. John McCain has been absent as he battles brain cancer. Trump’s nominee can win confirmation with only Republican votes, but attention will quickly shift to two moderate GOP senators, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who are supportive of abortion rights.

Trump also hopes to pressure several Democrats into voting to confirm his nominee. Three Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won by double digits in 2016 — Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and North Dakota

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp — voted “yes” on the confirmation of his first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who once held a court seat open for nearly a year before the 2016 election to keep President Barack Obama from filling it, lambasted Democrats for announcing their opposition before Trump had decided on a nominee.

“Justice Kennedy’s resignation letter barely arrived in the President’s hands before several Democratic colleagues began declaring their blanket opposition to anyone at all — anyone — that the President might name,” McConnell said Monday.

The sharply negative Democratic responses to Kavanaugh’s nomination indicated a pitched battle over his confirmation is coming this fall.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that by selecting Kavanaugh, Trump “has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block.”

“This nomination could alter the balance of the court in favor of powerful special interests and against working families for a generation, and would take away labor, civil, and human rights from millions of Americans. We cannot let that happen,” the New York Democrat said.