FBI agent Peter Strzok did not need help shaming Trey Gowdy and the other Republicans at Thursday’s Joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committee hearing on allegations that the veteran FBI counterintelligence agent had led an inquiry into foreign meddling in the 2016 election that was biased against Donald Trump.

Sharp and focused, generally unruffled yet appropriately upset with outrageous questions from Gowdy and his hyper-partisan colleagues, Strzok responded to the unrelenting attacks by declaring “unequivocally and under oath” that “not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took.” Then he went to the heart of the matter with a pointed declaration that “I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity. I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”

But the most powerful moment in day-long hearing did not result from any of the wild lines of questioning produced by the likes of Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert—nor from Strzok’s takedowns of off-the-rails committee members. The exchange that shredded the committee’s absurd focus on a handful of texts Strzok had exchanged with FBI lawyer Lisa Page came courtesy of one of the sharpest lawyers in Congress, Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin.

Raskin began his remarks by explaining why the hearing was really taking place. “The purpose, of course, is to derail and discredit the investigation by the special counsel that has obtained 19 indictments and five criminal convictions,” he said, referencing the investigation into wrongdoing by Trump associates that is being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Noting that Strzok had, in his personal texts, been an “equal opportunity insulter” of Democrats and Republicans, the veteran law professor argued that, while some of the texts might have been nasty, they could not reasonably or responsibly be reimagined as evidence of conspiratorial wrongdoing. “There are no kings here and we have freedom of speech—the right that is cherished by the people and feared only by tyrants. But my colleagues have insisted on making a conspiracy theory out of your pillow-talk texts,” said Raskin.

But there are a couple facts they can’t get around. Number one, the IG found no partisan bias affecting the official investigation. Number two, Attorney General Sessions is a Republican appointed by Donald Trump, Rod Rosenstein is a Republican appointed by Donald Trump, James Comey is a Republican appointed by Donald Trump, FBI director Wray is a Republican appointed by Donald Trump, and Robert Mueller is a life-long Republican. So this would have to be a Republican conspiracy. So I’m looking for evidence of the Republican conspiracy and all I could find were the kind of statements that you have been arraigned on today.

With this reality in mind, continued Raskin, “I want to ask you about those statements.” What ensued was a remarkable recounting of objections to the president from the nation’s most prominent Republicans, and from Trump’s own appointees. Raskin began: “In the spring of 2016, Senator Ted Cruz called Donald Trump a ‘snivelling coward, a pathological liar and a serial philanderer.’ Was this attack on Trump by Senator Ted Cruz a coordinated part of a deep-state conspiracy that you organized?”

“No,” replied Strzok.

“Senator Marco Rubio said Trump was unworthy of being our president. Was this attack part of a deep-state conspiracy that you organized?”

“No,” replied Strzok.

“In the October of 2016, Speaker Paul Ryan said, ‘I am not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future.’ Was this fleeting outburst of moral courage part of a deep-state conspiracy that you organized?

“No,” replied Strzok.

Raskin then referenced Trump appointees who had reportedly ripped into the president as “a moron,” “an empty vessel when it comes to the Constitution,” “like an 11-year-old child,” and “a dope and an idiot with the intelligence of a kindergartener.”

“Were all of these vituperative, negative characterizations of Donald Trump part of a deep-state GOP conspiracy engineered by you and your friends?”

“No,” replied Strzok.

“Were any of these statements part of a conspiracy you organized?”

“No,” replied Strzok.

For good measure, Raskin asked whether the FBI man had arranged for rocker Bruce Springsteen to declare that “the republic is under siege by a moron.”

“No,” replied an amused Strzok.

“This hearing has been a circus and a kangaroo court run in banana-Republican fashion,” said Raskin, who concluded, “I believe that some of my Republican colleagues have disgraced themselves today in their attack on the FBI and the justice system of America.”

That was true enough. But it was even more true that Raskin had risen above the chaos and shined, as the rare member of Congress who is capable of combining sharp insights and a wry sense of the absurd to devastating effect.