(CNSNews.com) - FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who worked on the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the investigation of possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign testified under oath in a congressional hearing on Thursday that FBI agents can engage in some types of adultery.
Strzok was asked “what action” he would take if he found out one of his subordinates was conducting an “extramarital affair.”
“It depends,” said Strzok.
“If it was against the FBI’s regulation in terms of if it was somebody in their chain of command, above or below them, which is inappropriate or not allowed by regulation, I would tell them and report that,” Strzok testified. “If it was otherwise permitted in our regulations, I would probably talk to them and tell them: Hey, look, I am aware of this and you need to be aware and just take into consideration what you are doing and the appearance of it.”
When FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee on June 28, he declined to say whether adultery created a “significant vulnerability” for an FBI agent. Wray and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte had the following exchange:
Chairman Bob Goodlatte: "Mr. Wray, we have repeatedly asked FBI personnel whether the fact that an agent has an extramarital affair is a problem. I am not asking because I want to be the morality police, I am asking because it seems clear that an affair that is unknown to a spouse could be a significant vulnerability to an FBI agent, especially a counter-intelligence agent. Do you agree with that sentiment?"
FBI Director Christopher Wray: "Well, Mr. Chairman, we have a specific offense code and I don’t want to comment on any of the ongoing personnel matters that are going through the disciplinary process right now, which I think answering your question at this particular time might cause me to do."
Peter Strzok was a senior official in the FBI’s counterintelligence division. “Strzok was promoted to a Section Chief in the Counterintelligence Division in February 2016, and to Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) in the fall of 2016,” said the Inspector General for the Justice Department.
Strzok also engaged in an adulterous affair with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who was a counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and who, like Strzok, worked on both the Clinton investigation and the Russia investigation.
The report that the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice released last month about the FBI’s conduct of the Clinton investigation said:
“The text messages between Page and Strzok covered a wide range of topics. For example, we identified a large number of routine work-related communications. Many of the text messages were of a personal nature, including discussions about their families, medical issues, and daily events, and reflected that Strzok and Page were communicating on their FBI-issued phones as part of an extramarital affair. We found that this relationship was relevant to the frequency and candid nature of the text messages and their use of FBI-issued phones to communicate. Some of these text messages expressed political opinions about candidates and issues involved in the 2016 presidential election, including statements of hostility toward candidate Trump and statements of support for candidate Clinton.”
In his testimony Thursday before a joint hearing of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Strzok addressed the issue of adultery and his own vulnerability to exploitation because of it with Rep. Karen Handel (R.-Ga.)
In this exchange, Strzok made his distinction between “extramarital affairs” that are prohibited under FBI regulations and those that are “otherwise permitted in our regulations.”
He also declared that he never could have been blackmailed because of his adulterous relationship with Lisa Page because his great “patriotism” would have prevented it.
When asked whether as someone holding a “high-level security clearance” he had ever discussed his adulterous relationship with anyone at the FBI, he did not directly answer the question. Instead, he said: They were well aware of it.”
Handel asked: “When did they become aware of it?”
Strzok responded: “Well, it was kind of made very public by the media after leaks in late last year.”
Handel said: “So, it was in the press. You didn’t proactively tell them.”
Strzok then replied: “Ma’am, I can tell you—Your premise, though, that it makes us susceptible to blackmail: I never, never could have been blackmailed or coerced by the nature of that relationship. That is not—the nature of my patriotism and the nature of what I believe in this country, you could not ever, nobody could have made that---“
Here is a transcript of the exchange between Rep. Handel and Strzok on his “extramarital affair” and its appropriateness for an FBI agent:
Rep. Karen Handel: "Suppose that you found out that one of your direct reports was having an extramarital affair with a colleague or with someone outside of the bureau. What action would you take?"
Peter Strzok: "Ma’am, it depends. If it was against the FBI’s regulation in terms of if it was somebody in their chain of command, above or below them, which is inappropriate or not allowed by regulation, I would tell them and report that. If it was otherwise permitted in our regulations, I would probably talk to them and tell them: Hey, look, I am aware of this and you need to be aware and just take into consideration what you are doing and the appearance of it."
Rep. Handel: "So, obviously you understand the gravity of the transgressions, engaging in the kind of behavior that you have been engaging in—especially with the extramarital affair. It opens up an agent to exploitation and even blackmail. Given the fact that you have and currently hold a high-level security clearance, did you ever discuss your relationship with Miss Page with HR or anyone around your security clearance?"
Strzok: "They were well aware of it by—well, they—"
Rep. Handel: "When did they become aware of it?"
Strzok: "Well, it was kind of made very public by the media after leaks in late last year."
Rep. Handel: "So, it was in the press. You didn’t proactively tell them."
Strzok: "Ma’am, I can tell you—Your premise, though, that it makes us susceptible to blackmail: I never, never could have been blackmailed or coerced by the nature of that relationship. That is not—the nature of my patriotism and the nature of what I believe in this country, you could not ever, nobody could have made that---"
Rep. Handel: "When you’re undergoing a security clearance, you are asked a question about that. There’s a reason that security clearances ask those kinds of questions. Did you ever advise Mr. Mueller of your relationship with Miss Page?"
Strzok: "I did not."
Rep. Handel: "Why?"
Strzok: "It didn’t strike me as relevant."
Rep. Handel: "You have a lot to learn about human resources. Wow. It is absolutely relevant. There should have been conversations. I find it interesting that there was no discussion that the two of you shouldn’t both be together on that investigation. Mr. Strzok, no reasonable person could not be concerned about your actions in this investigation. No reasonable person could not be concerned about this situation involving yourself. Mr. Chairman, I yield back."