House Republicans made no effort to hide their intentions: they wanted to create a spectacle with a lengthy interrogation of Peter Strzok, who served as the head of the FBI's counter-intelligence division, and who's become a boogeyman in Republican circles.
To a degree, GOP lawmakers got their wish. On the heels of 11 hours of closed-door testimony from Strzok, Americans were treated to 10 hours of open-door testimony yesterday, which offered plenty of sound and fury.
But did it signify anything? Yesterday's drama on Capitol Hill created a circus-like atmosphere, which at times descended into farce, but if we look past the spectacle and focus on the ostensible point of yesterday's hearings, we're left with a question Republicans failed to think through.
If Donald Trump and his allies are correct, Strzok was a biased attack dog who conspired to use his role at the FBI to undermine the president's 2016 candidacy. But if the conspiracy theory were true, why didn't Strzok do what his critics claim? As a Washington Post analysis explained:
If there was such a conspiracy, of course, it didn't work. Trump is president and, before the election, there was barely a public whiff that any investigation even existed. If Strzok's idea was to "stop" Trump from becoming president, it was a spectacular failure.
In a written statement offered before he testified before the House Oversight Committee on Thursday, Strzok pointedly noted that there was no effort on his part to keep Trump from winning the White House -- and, further, that he was one of only a few people who could have potentially leaked details from the investigation in an effort to block Trump's victory.
"In the summer of 2016," Strzok told lawmakers, "I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind."
This point has gone unrefuted. Strzok could've leaked word to the public about the pre-election investigation into Trump's political operation, but he didn't. If the high-ranking agent had been determined to use his position to undermine the president's candidacy, why didn't he use his position to undermine the president's candidacy?