Peter Strzok's attorney says the beleaguered FBI agent may decline a House Judiciary Committee invitation to testify on July 10, despite previously expressing interest in doing so - over what his attorney Aitan Goelman said would be a trap.
Strzok testified last Wednesday in a closed door session a week after declaring he would do so "without immunity" and without invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. None of that mattered, however, as those present say "It was a waste after Strzok kept hiding behind a "classified information" excuse, while DOJ attorneys prevented Strzok from answering anything remotely entering productive territory.
Now, Goelman says the committee has "sharpened their knives behind closed doors" and will spring a trap on Strzok by seizing "on any tiny inconsistencies" with last week's testimony "to 'prove' that he perjured himself or made false statements," Goelman wrote in a letter to the panel somehow obtained by CNN.
“Having sharpened their knives behind closed doors, the Committee would now like to drag back Special Agent Strzok and have him testify in public — a request that we originally made and the Committee denied,” Goelman wrote.
Sounding suspiciously like Rudy Giuliani, he continued: “What’s being asked of Special Agent Strzok is to participate in what anyone can recognize as a trap.”
In his email, Goelman wrote that it was “generous to characterize many of these inquiries as ‘questions’” — suggesting instead that the GOP’s closed-door queries had been “political theater and attempts to embarrass the witness” through various leaks.
Among the questions Goelman complained Republicans put to Strzok were one about whether he loved Lisa Page, the recipient of his anti-Trump texts with whom he was having an affair, and another asking “what DO Trump supporters SMELL like, Agent?” — a reference to an August 2016 text Strzok sent in which he told Page he could “SMELL the Trump support” at a Walmart in southern Virginia. -WaPo
Goelman also called for a transcript of last week's 11 hours of testimony, and while he didn't rule out testimony in front of other committees, it is unclear whether Strzok will accept the House Judiciary Committee's invitation to testify unless the transcript is released.
Goelman anticipated that Strzok would be criticized for refusing to testify on July 10, writing that Strzok “is willing to testify again, and he is willing to testify publicly. Any suggestion that he is trying to avoid doing so is an outright lie.”
But Goelman suggested that he would not consider Strzok to be bound by the Judiciary Committee’s demands that he not speak to other congressional panels before their work was done — leaving an opening for other congressional panels to attempt to schedule interviews with Strzok. -WaPo
Perhaps Goelman realized how absurd it would look if Strzok kept de-facto pleading the fifth with the phrase: "On the advice of FBI counsel, I can't answer that question."