“Anybody watch the testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today?” Stephen Colbert asked at the top of Thursday’s “Late Show,” referencing their questioning of Peter Strzok, an FBI agent removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team over anti-Trump text messages he sent to his mistress and fellow government lawyer.
“It was a parliamentary smackdown,” the comedian declared. “The Capitol dome turned into Thunderdome … When Strzok went before Congress today, the heat was on. That’s why we’re calling our coverage the Red-Hot Congressional Strzok-Fest 2018.”
In his opening statement, Strzok stressed his respect for Congress’ oversight role but expressed fear that “today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Vladimir Putin’s belt.”
Colbert disagreed, noting, “After the last two years, I’m surprised Putin has any belt left. It’s all notch at this point.”
He was especially amused by the parliamentary bickering that went on between committee chair and “mannequin head that makeup artists practice on” Bob Goodlatte and Democratic member Jerrold Nadler. After watching footage of their exchange, the comedian declared, “Damn, it’s Robert’s Rules of ‘Back off (expletive) or I will cut you!’
After playing a clip of committee members rebuking Goodlatte for forbidding Strrozk to confer with FBI counsel, Colbert noted, “This is the first time I’ve seen Congress as frustrated with Congress as we are.”
But Colbert’s favorite part came when Strzok said he didn’t appreciate “South Carolina Republican and Supercuts vampire Trey Gowdy” misrepresenting the reason for his dismissal from the special counsel’s team. The FBI agent said it was done for appearance’s sake rather than actual concern over political bias.
“I don’t give a damn what you appreciate, Mr. Strzok,” Gowdy spat back. “I don’t appreciate having an FBI agent with an unprecedented level of animus working on two major investigations in 2016.”
Colbert observed, “That was intense! It was like ‘A Few Good Men’ but with even fewer good men.”
Strzok was eventually allowed to answer, angrily telling the Congressman, “I can assure you, at no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took.”
He continued, “The suggestion that I, in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI, would cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn’t happen. And the proposition that that is going on or that it might occur anywhere in the FBI deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of its mission. And it is deeply destructive.”
Afterward, Colbert said, “I was wondering why Gowdy was slumped so far down in his chair. Turns out it’s because he had his (butt) handed to him.”