What the Hell Happened During Peter Strzok’s Testimony?

Politics

During breaks in the action at Thursday’s ludicrous puppet show in the House of Representatives, while Peter Strzok was enjoying a richly earned break from being badgered by morons, I scoured the intertoobz for something (anything!) to read that didn’t involve Louie Gohmert’s head spinning off toward Anacostia.

I came upon this interesting report from the Financial Times which did, in its own way, put everything that happened in the House in a different kind of context. It has to do with the essential subject under discussion—namely, that the president* of the United States is something of a wholly owned subsidiary of Russian oligarchs, who have kept his business afloat and who had a great deal to do with how he became president*. It concerns a Trump Tower project in Toronto.

Here are the simplest of the simple facts. Russia currently is run by a former KGB goon whose geopolitical goals include the destabilization of this country and the Western alliance generally. Russia also is a deeply criminal kleptocracy that profits only those oligarchs who stay on the goon’s good side. (Several of the ones who failed to do that ended up dead.) At this point in his business career, the president* of the United States could not find a bank in the United States who would give him a loan. So, he went overseas and found a number of friends among the Volga Bagmen.

Just as long as we’re all on the same page. It always has been about the money, and to whom the president* owes it, and what else he might owe those folks, and what might he do to settle those debts. Which makes the display in the House on Thursday all the more comical, as well as being the most embarrassing episode in representative democracy since the dissolution of The Useless Parliament in 1625, and that one had an outbreak of bubonic plague to excuse its floundering. This one only had Steve King. Not sure which way I’d go on the swap there, actually.

Yelling, accusations and chaos: Former FBI agent Peter Strzok testifies before House panel Thursday https://t.co/3x4HT39ijx pic.twitter.com/ZbMCWZ5dgD

It helps to make sense of the nonsense to remember that the fundamental position of the Republicans on the committee was that the FBI went out of its way during the 2016 presidential campaign to help Hillary Rodham Clinton. Nobody who was alive during that time can find that contention anything short of ridiculous. Nobody who was alive on October 28, 2016, when FBI director James Comey wrote his letter to Congress about Anthony Weiner’s laptop, can find that contention anything short of ridiculous. (I mean, hell, there’s data.) Nevertheless, that was the basis for hauling Peter Strzok up to Capitol Hill to play the role in which they have cast them in their own heads.

Peter Strzok has been a conjuring phrase in the particular magical wilderness ever since it became clear that Robert Mueller was closing in on the real scandal and that El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago was going to need a pretty thick cloud of squid ink to obscure the extent of his corruption. (As for who Peter Strzok really is, and what he’s really done for the country, kindly Doc Maddow had a nice wrap-up on her show Wednesday night. Turns out there might not have been The Americans without him.)

However, they couldn’t stop themselves, again. They needed video for their favorite TV news stars to slobber over, and they needed some clips to use this fall to gin up The Base. They got those, but I’m damned if I can figure out what else they got out of this exercise. Strzok was a good witness on his own behalf, slamming Gowdy down almost before Def Congress Jam got started.

GRILLED BY GOWDY: Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy grilled FBI agent Peter Strzok for nearly 15 minutes at a hearing today and the fiery exchange quickly made headlines https://t.co/rJdZC4te7e pic.twitter.com/ywur961Vgc

The first mistake everyone made was making this a joint hearing between the House Judiciary Committee and the House Government and Oversight Committee. Not only did this divide the overall chair of the panel between Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Trey Gowdy, the lopheaded Javert of Benghazi, Benghazi!, Benghazi!, but also it brought together an exaltation of wingnut crazy unmatched in the Congress since the last time Michele Bachmann dined alone with the voices in her head. These included:

The Padishah Emperor of Crazy People: Louie Gohmert of Texas.

The DUI Guy: Matt Gaetz of Florida.

The White-Supremacist, Nazi-Retweeting Guy: Steve King of Iowa.

The (Allegedly) Sexual-Assault Enabling Guy: Jim Jordan of Ohio.

The Pro-Life-But-Encourage-Your-Wife-And-Mistress-Get-Abortions-Guy: Scott DeJarlais of Tennessee.

The Beating Up Reporters Guy: Greg Gianforte of Montana.

The Health Care Is Terrorism Woman: Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.

The Grand Theft Auto Guy: Darrell Issa.

The Atheists Caused Sandy Hook Guy: Jody Hice of Georgia.

The People Who Have Babies For Guinea Pigs Guy: Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin.

This is not the best face you want to put on your serious investigation, and that’s even before you get to James Sensenbrenner’s chortling, “Trump won!” as though that was dispositive of anything except the modern relevance of the Electoral College. And while the Republicans got to roll out every deep state fantasy they’ve been nurturing carefully since they realized the kind of president* they were going to have to defend for four years, they went out of their way to remind people of…the kind of president they have to defend.

Jordan spent almost eight hours reminding the American people about “the dossier,” while his presence on TV reminded people of what’s going on at The Ohio State University these days. They had Gowdy’s repeating “Impeachment!” over and over again. They gave Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois, a chance to ask Strzok about Rudy Giuliani’s possible connivance with the New York field office of the FBI, and it gave Strzok a chance to talk about how that connivance worried him.

Did they really want to be the people who kept reminding America of that, or of the pee-tape, or the people who insisted on injecting the idea of impeachment into the public dialogue? Everybody except Gohmert, who is a fool, and Steve Russell of Oklahoma, who came around to it at the end of the day, the Republicans tap-danced around Strzok’s relationship with DOJ reporter Lisa Page? Did they really want to get into marital infidelity in defense of this president*? Do they think any of this helped the White House? Do they think anything they did on Thursday scared Robert Mueller?

It always has been about the money, and to whom the president* owes it.

There’s no real point in recapping the highlights. The videos are going to be in regular rotation for quite a while now. It was, as it was called at various points in the hearing, a kangaroo court, a show trial, and a travesty of a sham of a mockery of a sham of two mockeries. But it was designed to be that. It was a performance piece. It was not a very well-cast one, and several of the lead actors fell into the orchestra pit, but it managed to run from curtain-up to curtain-down.

And there’s still the basic fact out there that the president* of the United States needed money to shore up his failing businesses, and he went to Russian oligarchs in league with a KGB goon at the head of an authoritarian nation to get it, and that we don’t know what he owes, and to whom, and what he’s willing to do to settle his debts.

Again, from the FT:

It’s about the money. It’s always been about the money.

Jesus fcking God.

Wow, they saved the stupidest part of the hearing for last. “I’m a dentist, Okay. So I read body language very, very well.” https://t.co/puFFJFVdzn pic.twitter.com/ZmbzSzju8U