Disgraced anti-Trump FBI official Peter Strzok finally appeared before an open, joint hearing of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees Thursday.
For a full play-by-play rundown of the hearing, check out our live blog from the event. Here’s the highlight reel:
The bad: Democrats made an absolute mockery of the House’s oversight powers.
Between doing everything they could to keep Strzok from answering GOP members’ questions during the hearing, throwing the softest of softballs at the disgraced public servant, and openly cheering one of Strzok’s outbursts, the Democrats quickly made the hearing into a circus. At one point, a Democratic member even opined about how much he wished he could give Strzok a Purple Heart — a military award reserved for those who have been wounded or killed in service to the republic.
The irony of this farcical performance of political theater is that a repeated talking point from minority members was that investigating Strzok’s political biases amounts to nothing more than naked partisanship, but putting a public servant on a nearly deific pedestal apparently isn’t.
The good: Nevertheless, Republicans managed to get some solid information.
While questions from GOP members (namely, those from Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Louie Gohmert, R-Texas) elicited outrage and obstruction from Democratic members, Republican lawmakers got a key concession out of the witness regarding the origins of the infamous “dirty dossier” loaded with specious “intelligence” about President Trump’s contacts with Russia.
Peter Strzok just admitted under questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan that Bruce Ohr, husband of Fusion GPS operative Nellie Ohr, funneled documents to the FBI related to the Russia case. Strzok refused to say what those documents were.
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 12, 2018
Strzok communicated with Bruce Ohr, whose wife Nellie worked at Fusion GPS specifically to go after Trump. Fusion GPS developed the dossier.
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) July 12, 2018
.@Jim_Jordan on Peter Strzok testimony: "Today in committee, I think for the first time, the FBI and the DOJ have admitted that they got the dossier, parts of the dossier from Bruce Ohr." #Dobbs pic.twitter.com/kzb0a14baN
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) July 12, 2018
The infuriating: It’s all just theater until it’s not.
Yes, Democrats made a mockery of the entire hearing. Yes, Republicans got solid jabs in and even some new information. Yes, Strzok somehow managed to make himself look even worse in person than he did in text message, as Mollie Hemingway points out. And, yes, we have a whole new set of developments to discuss on this story.
However, where this will go in the end, if anywhere, is hard to say. Sure, holding Strzok in contempt for not answering questions is on the table right now, although seemingly unlikely at this point.
This investigation could very well lead to meaningful congressional actions and reforms that will serve to restore public trust in the FBI, but after the multiple cases of go-nowhere episodes of government oversight theater that the Americans have seen play out over Benghazi, the IRS scandal, and others, color me skeptical.