On Thursday, as the latest installment in the ongoing back and forth between Trump and Republicans on the one side and the justice system on the other side over the Russia investigation, FBI agent Peter Strzok appeared for testimony at a public Congressional hearing.
Strzok has come under scrutiny for having expressed anti-Trump sentiments in private text conversations. As the hearing featuring him got underway Thursday morning, it became clear that Republicans were hellbent on treating him like a punching bag. Democrats, though, proved — perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly — to be on the side of Strzok and, more broadly, the integrity of the Russia investigation as a whole.
To that end, Representative Elijah Cummings brought out large visual aids when he had the opportunity to speak that helped drive home the point that it’s not as though the Russia investigation is a bias driven, baseless enterprise. In fact, as he pointed out, there have been a number of guilty pleas from Trump associated individuals at this point, and their crimes weren’t made up.
Cummings brought out large poster boards that featured images of individuals who have pleaded guilty at this point with the word “guilty” superimposed over the images. Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump advisers George Papadopoulos and Rick Gates, attorney Alex Van Der Zwaan, and fraudster Richard Pinedo were among those pictured.
Check out the display below.
Republicans are now objecting to Cummings’ use of these visual aides. Calls of “point of order” weren’t given any satisfaction—Goodlatte permits him to proceed. pic.twitter.com/X54bD7tiA3
— Katie Bo Williams (@KatieBoWill) July 12, 2018
Republicans tried during the hearing to contest Cummings bringing out the images, but they were unable to point to a specific rule making them out of place and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Goodlatte (R-VA) allowed the visual aids to remain displayed.
The images, while fittingly blunt, point out something important. Despite Republicans in Congress running frantically around like chickens with their heads cut off and trying to protect the private ideas of utopia that were manifested in reality with the election of Donald Trump, the Russia investigation is based in reality. The investigation is fitting thanks to actual crimes that have been committed by an array of interests in conjunction to foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, and if the president has nothing to hide, he should not object to investigators looking into how his team was or wasn’t a part of that.
That’s not going to stop Republicans, though. During the beginning of the Thursday hearing featuring Peter Strzok, they acted as the Trump team’s attack dogs. Goodlatte threatened to seek to hold Strzok in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer a question about the specifics of the active Russia investigation, which the agent did in line with the direction of the FBI general counsel. (Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) had asked him how many people he interviewed in the first week of the Russia investigation’s existence.)
As pointed out by people like Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) during the hearing itself, Republicans didn’t even hint at the same level of determination when questioning Trump associated individuals. Steve Bannon, who spent months close to Trump, refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee, and yet he got to move on and that was that.
The overall back and forth, then, is continuing, with Congressional Republicans digging into their positions as endlessly committed defenders of Donald Trump and Democrats being left to defend the justice system against their attacks.
Featured Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images