Washington( CNN) Even by the clown show standards of the House of Representatives, this was not democracy's finest hour.

Republicans, posing as grave attorneys of a state crime, sought to paint Strzok's anti-Trump political commentary in texts to a former fan as a symptom of institutionalized bias that should invalidate special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election — from which Strzok has been removed.

Democrats battled to defend him from assault after attack, and to turn the focus back onto alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Lawmaker shouts at Gowdy: This is not Benghazi!

Rep. Gowdy grills Strzok over text messages