Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have recommended a criminal investigation of Christopher Steele, author of the Trump dossier commissioned by Fusion GPS.
In a January 4, 2017 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the committee wrote they had reason to believe that Steele, a former British spy, lied to federal authorities about his contacts with reporters regarding the dossier.
“I don’t take lightly making a criminal referral for criminal investigation,” Grassley said in a statement. “But as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review.”
“Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI. If the same actions have different outcomes and those differences seem to correspond with partisan political interests, then the public will naturally suspect that law enforcement decisions are not on the up-and-up,” he said.
“I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter,” Graham added.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is one of three committees looking into the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and any potential collusion by the Trump administration.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn with one count of lying to the FBI, and he has also charged former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos with making false statements to investigators.
Congressional investigators are closing in on Fusion GPS’s role in the FBI’s initial investigation of the Trump campaign.
Fusion GPS was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to dig up dirt on Trump. It hired Steele, who then took his research to the FBI, as well as to members of the media and Congress. Fusion GPS also hired the wife of a senior Justice Department official.
Investigators are examining whether the dossier — an unverified and salacious piece of opposition research — was used as part of a justification to get surveillance warrants on Trump campaign members, as well as to launch the whole Russia investigation.
The FBI had reportedly reached an agreement to pay Steele, but backed off once his name became widely known. It still reportedly paid Steele for “expenses.”
The left-wing media has painted the revelations as a “distraction” and an effort to discredit Mueller’s investigation, almost entirely ignoring or dismissing them as partisan attacks.
The New York Times reported Friday that Grassley and Graham’s decision to single out Steele “was certain to infuriate Democrats and raise the stakes in the growing partisan battle over the investigations into Mr. Trump, his campaign team and Russia.”
As the revelations have grown, current and former officials — likely at the DOJ or FBI — have fought back through leaks, arguing that the dossier did not start the FBI’s investigation, and that there were other sources, such as drunken statements by Papadopoulos.