Democrat Congressman Steve Cohen is walking back comments he made during Thursday’s House Oversight Committee hearing with Peter Strzok, the anti-Trump FBI official who testified on an alleged bias.
Strzok was widely scolded by Republican members of the committee and the hearing itself escalated into a shouting match on more than one occasion.
Strzok said he did not exhibit bias, congressional Republicans thought otherwise.
Chairman Trey Gowdy and other members grilled Strzok over what they said was obvious bias in text messages he exchanged with another FBI official.
Here’s Gowdy for example:
Strzok defended himself and said no one in the FBI is allowing bias or their personal views to cross over into their professional work. “I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, at no time, in any of these texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” Strzok said.
Later during the hearing, the Democrat congressman said Strzok deserved a Purple Heart for his efforts – a comment widely criticized by people over the internet and some media outlets.
Per Washington Examiner:
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said he regrets telling FBI agent Peter Strzok in Thursday’s House Judiciary and House Oversight committee hearing that he deserves a Purple Heart medal for his testimony.
“I said something at the hearings yesterday about Purple Hearts which another network that is named for a four-legged animal has been making a big deal about,” Cohen told CNN, referring to criticism from Fox News.
Cohen said he never meant that Strzok deserved an actual Purple Heart, but was speaking figuratively.
“I regret using the term ‘Purple Heart,’” the Democrat said, per Washington Examiner. “I used it metaphorically, not literally. I never literally thought the Purple Heart should be given to agent Strzok. But I do believe that he was being attacked because the FBI and the Mueller investigation were under attack.”
On Thursday, at the committee hearing, Cohen said: “If I could give you a Purple Heart, I would. You deserve one.”
Here’s more, per Fox News:
Cohen went on to describe the hearing as “an attack on you and a way to attack [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller and the investigation that is to get at Russian collusion involved in our elections, which is what this committee should be looking at.”
Strzok, who was an Army officer before joining the FBI, repeatedly denied acting on his anti-Trump views while he worked on the Hillary Clinton email investigation and while he worked on the Mueller probe. Strzok was pulled off the Mueller investigation last year after the Justice Department’s internal watchdog made the special prosecutor aware of the texts.
The Purple Heart typically is awarded to members of the U.S. military who are wounded or killed by enemies in war.
Republican Congressmen Mark Meadows and Darrel Issa both quickly criticized the comment of their Democrat colleague.
The notion that Peter Strzok deserves a “purple heart” is an insult to the honor, valor, and service of men and women who truly earned its recognition
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) July 12, 2018
Could not agree more. https://t.co/RYO1hfaxRF
— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) July 12, 2018
Fox & Friends brought on an actual Purple Heart recipient on their morning show to ask him about the comment. Check it out:
.@Johnny_Joey on @RepCohen ‘Purple Heart’ comments: “It’s pretty disgraceful and probably the stupidest thing someone said since Hank Johnson thought Guam might flip over.” https://t.co/Xm7CDPSPCa pic.twitter.com/ED1Iv9aKIa
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 13, 2018
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) July 13, 2018
This speaks volumes about what #Democrats think of the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. In a day full of disgusting moments, this may have been the worst. Despicable. https://t.co/1bKVTkXRO8
— Herman Cain (@THEHermanCain) July 13, 2018