FBI Director Christopher Wray must produce “all records” from the bureau’s Russia collusion investigation that evidence declassified this week revealed to be “infected by Russian disinformation,” two Republican senators wrote in a letter Thursday.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), the author’s of the letter, pressured the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to declassify footnotes from the December 2019 Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general (IG) report about the FBI’s Russian collusion investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, known as operation “Crossfire Hurricane.”
The letter to FBI Director Wray came a day after Grassley and Johnson released the newly declassified evidence.
According to the disclosures, the FBI may have assisted Moscow’s American election interference by heavily relying on a Democrat-funded dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele to spy on Trump’s campaign even after learning that the document likely contained Russian disinformation. In other words, the infamous “pee dossier” that fueled the FBI’s collusion investigation relied on Russian lies.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Grassley and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Johnson requested the following information from FBI Director Wray:
- All intelligence records (e.g., reporting, products, memoranda, etc.), foreign or domestic, received or reviewed by the Crossfire Hurricane team. For any such intelligence record no longer in FBI’s possession, please identify the record, the entity that provided the record, and the date of FBI’s review.
- All FBI records … addressing these intelligence products.
- A list of all intelligence records requested but not received or reviewed by the Crossfire Hurricane team.
The FBI has dismissed concerns it was manipulated, telling the DOJ IG that the bureau evaluated and brushed off the notion.
Referring to the declassified footnotes in the letter, Grassley and Johnson wrote:
They reveal disturbing facts about the FBI’s investigation: the Crossfire Hurricane team’s investigative file included at least two intelligence reports stating that key parts of the reporting from Christopher Steele—reporting that “played a central and essential role” in the decision to request FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] orders [to spy on the Trump campaign] —were part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
The information in the now-declassified footnotes also directly contradicts statements provided by FBI officials in the OIG [office of the inspector general] report. … We are deeply troubled by the Crossfire Hurricane team’s awareness of and apparent indifference to Russian disinformation, as well as by the grossly inaccurate statements by the FBI official in charge of the investigation and its supervisory intelligence analyst.
Because these facts show the intention, means, and ability to plant Russian disinformation in Steele’s reporting, they suggest that the prevalence of such disinformation in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation may have been widespread.
FBI officials launched their collusion probe during former President Barack Obama’s administration while the agency, a component of DOJ, was under the leadership of James Comey. The investigation, which ultimately found no collusion, carried into the current administration.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian election interference barely mentioned the Steele dossier.