Republican Senators seek criminal probe of Trump 'dossier' author

Republican Senators seek criminal probe of Trump 'dossier' author

Republican Senators seek criminal probe of Trump 'dossier' author

Lindsey Graham said Friday they had referred former British spy Christopher Steele to the Justice Department for investigation about false statements he may have made to the government.

The criminal referral from Grassley and Graham appears to be the first that's tied to any of the congressional committees investigating Russian election meddling.

The potential felony was referred to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, along with corroborating documents. "In any event, it's up to the Justice Department to figure that out". On Friday, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said the department had received the referral and will review it.

It claimed there was collusion between Mr Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, and that the Russians have information that could be used to blackmail the President. Trump has called the dossier "phony" and derided it as a politically motivated hit job, and many Republicans in Congress have been focused on discrediting it.

The criminal referral is an escalation by Republicans struggling over the credibility of the dossier written by Steele about President Donald Trump and Russia -- and by extension the FBI and special counsel investigations into possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump team. In it, they allege that Republican lawmakers are waging a "cynical campaign" to portray Fusion GPS and the now infamous Steele dossier as "unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation".

For months, it was suspected that the Steele dossier, which was shared with USA intelligence agencies after the 2016 election, may have prompted the FBI's decision to open an investigation into the matter.

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. "I hope the Department of Justice will carefully review our letter and take appropriate action".

"Remember, before the Senate - before the House Judiciary Committee, Congressmen Jim Jordan, Ron DeSantis, other people were asking, how was this funded?" said Chaffetz. The letter makes reference to a "Top Secret" memo that they said relates to "certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple US news outlets" regarding the "dossier".

"I think this referral is unfortunate as 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 to influence the election and whether there was subsequent obstruction of justice", Feinstein said in a statement.

Most of the allegations levied against Steele were classified, as they were based on secret meetings between him and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that have since been passed on to the Judiciary Committee.

Republicans allege the dossier, which was commissioned by research firm Fusion GPS, served as the basis of the federal investigation in the president's alleged ties to Russian Federation. A release from the committee said that the referral, which is based on both classified and publicly available information unearthed by investigators, does not pertain to the veracity of claims in the dossier.

Donald Trump has threatened to sue a publisher over a book he doesn't like. "I'll continue to stand strong against any efforts to undermine Special Counsel Mueller's investigation, as well as the ongoing congressional investigations", Feinstein said. "We should all be skeptical in the extreme".

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