GOP senators urge criminal probe of Trump dossier author

GOP senators urge criminal probe of Trump dossier author

Lindsey Graham of SC, whose subcommittee has held several Russia-related hearings, said in a statement they were referring ex-British agent Chris Steele for what they described as "potentially false statements about the distribution of claims from the dossier".

The statement from Graham and Grassley goes on to say that the referral "does not pertain to the veracity of claims contained in the dossier" and that it "is not meant to be an allegation of a crime".

"I don't take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation", Grassley said in a statement.

Grassley and Graham are supporters of a campaign by President Trump and some Republicans to demonize Steele and his dossier and cast doubt over the credibility of official USA investigations, including one led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It has faced renewed criticism as conservatives have ramped up attacks on perceived bias within the Department of Justice. It was not immediately clear from the referral what Steele allegedly lied to investigators about.

According to the New York Times, it's the first known criminal referral made as part of a Republican-led investigation into possible Russian election interference-and notable because it was made against someone attempting to expose that interference.

But subsequent reporting, including by the Guardian and the New York Times, has shown that United States intelligence agencies were prompted to investigate the issues before they received the dossier.

Christopher Steele   Screenshot
Christopher Steele Screenshot

Democrats dismissed the criminal referral as another political attempt to discredit the Russian Federation investigations.

The minority leader of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein says "it's clearly another effort to deflect attention from what should be the committee's top priority: determining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation". "I'll continue to stand strong against any efforts to undermine Special Counsel Mueller's investigation, as well as the ongoing congressional investigations". I hope it's up to the task. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.

Mueller is now spearheading the FBI's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, including whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the election in his favor. After complaining about how Steele "conducted himself in distributing information contained in the dossier" and about "how many stop signs the DOJ ignored in its use of the dossier", Graham concluded, "I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter".

Dated Jan. 4, the letter indicates the senators passed attached a classified memo "related to certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple USA news outlets regarding the so-called "Trump dossier" that Mr. Steele compiled on behalf of Fusion GPS for the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee and also provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

The dossier is a compilation of memos Steele wrote during the 2016 campaign that contained several allegations of connections between Trump and Russian Federation, including that Trump had been compromised by the Kremlin.

The broad assertion of the dossier findings - that Russian Federation waged a campaign to interfere in the election - is now accepted as fact by the United States intelligence community.




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