WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve Cohen issued a followup statement after telling embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok he deserved a Purple Heart medal for his testimony in front of a congressional hearing on Thursday.
The Purple Heart is given to US service members who are wounded or killed in combat. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has described it as “one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the US armed forces,” and “the nation’s oldest military award.”
“I regret mentioning the Purple Heart medal at yesterday’s hearing. My intent was to speak metaphorically to make a broader point about attacks against the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into a Russian attack on our country.
“I have nothing but the highest respect for members of the Armed Forces, especially those who have been awarded Purple Hearts, as well as the hard working men and women at the FBI. We are safe because of their service and sacrifice.
“As today’s indictments underscore, the Russians are out to attack our nation’s democratic institutions. We need to let Special Prosecutor Mueller and the FBI continue their work to protect us.”
During the tense hearing, the Tennessee Democrat told Strzok, “If I could give you a Purple Heart, I would. You deserve one.” He then went on to say that Thursday’s hearing “has been an attack on you and a way to attack” special counsel Robert Mueller and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Several congressional Republicans criticized the Purple Heart remark on Twitter with Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina calling it an “insult” to recipients of the award.
“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,” the North Carolina Republican tweeted on Thursday.
Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, reacted to Meadows’ statement by saying on Twitter that he “could not agree more.”