Democratic lawmaker regrets call for ‘Purple Heart’ for Strzok

A Democratic congressman who said Thursday that embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok deserves a Purple Heart medal for his testimony at a contentious congressional hearing walked back those comments Friday in an interview on CNN’s “Newsroom.”

“I regret using the term ‘Purple Heart.’ I used it metaphorically, not literally. I never thought literally it should be given to Agent Strzok,” Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee told CNN’s Ana Cabrera.

During Strzok’s nearly 10 hours of congressional testimony Thursday, where he faced criticism and scrutiny from Republicans over anti-Trump text messages he had exchanged with then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Cohen had said to him: “If I could give you a Purple Heart, I would. You deserve one.”

The Purple Heart is given to US service members who are wounded or killed in combat. The 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.”

In Friday’s interview, Cohen also praised the FBI and investigators working on the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US election after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein earlier announced an indictment of 12 Russian nationals in connection with the investigation.

“They are strong units defending America, and these indictments prove it once again,” Cohen said.