The Department of Justice has been asked by members of the Senate to open a criminal investigation into Christopher Steele, the man who wrote the controversial and highly disputed opposition dossier on President Donald J. Trump.
The two Republican senators, Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), sent a letter Friday to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray. In it, they refer Steele for investigation, saying he potentially lied to federal authorities.
The Justice Department is not required to open up an investigation in response to the letter, however the request is the first criminal referral from any of the congressional investigations into Russia’s election interference.
“I don’t take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation. 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,” Grassley said in a statement (see below).
Graham said, “After reviewing how Mr. Steele conducted himself in distributing information contained in the dossier and how many stop signs the DOJ ignored in its use of the dossier, I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter.”
The Hill reports:
As part of their request, the two senators passed along a memo tied to “certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple U.S. news outlets.” They did not publicly release the memorandum, which is classified.
And Grassley’s office, in announcing their request, noted that it’s standard for the committee to notify DOJ when it “comes across what appears to be credible evidence of a criminal violation that warrants further investigation by appropriate authorities based on information from any source, public or non-public.”
Grassley and Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired Steele to compile the dossier, have been in a public battle as Grassley has been dogged in his attempts to determine the extent of the FBI’s contact with Steele. Grassley is also determined to find out who Steele’s sources were.
As for the dossier, some of the allegations in it were proven false, some claims were already public knowledge, and others remain unproven.
Fusion GPS, meanwhile, recently lost a bid to hide their financial records. The House Intelligence Committee, along with committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) had slapped the company with a subpoena requesting the company’s bank records, in an effort to find out who had paid for the creation of the salacious claims against Trump.
The firm fought to keep the information private, but lost their bid Thursday, as a federal judge ruled against the firm.
Below is the letter the Sen’s sent to Rosenstein and Wray:
Below is a statement released regarding the Sens. referral:
Senators @ChuckGrassley and @LindseyGrahamSC have referred Christopher Steele to @TheJusticeDept for investigation after information reviewed by committee investigators revealed significant inconsistencies in statements provided to authorities pic.twitter.com/MKhJlscdKP
— Senate Judiciary (@senjudiciary) January 5, 2018