Senators Refer Dossier Author to DOJ in Criminal Referral

Sen. Charles Grassley

Two influential Republican senators issued a criminal referral this week against Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the largely unverified "Trump dossier". 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".

Two senior Republican U.S. Senators on Friday called for a criminal investigation into the former British spy who compiled a "dossier" in 2016 of allegations of financial and personal links between then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, his advisers and Russian Federation.

Graham and Grassley did not provide evidence to back up their referral, but said they had sent Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray a classified attachment to accompany their referral. "You had people at the senior most level at the Department of Justice saying well, we know but we're not going to tell you".

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.

The Judiciary Committee probe is one of three congressional investigations into Russian interference into the United States election, and is separate from Robert Mueller's probe.

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 FBI has reopened its absurd investigation of the Clinton Foundation. On Friday, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said the department had received the referral and will review it.

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"The rule of law depends on the government and all who work on its behalf playing by the rules themselves", Graham said in a statement. The others are the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. The letter makes reference to a "Top Secret" memo that they said relates to "certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple USA news outlets" regarding the "dossier".

The statement notes that the referral "is not meant to be an allegation of a crime".

A lawyer for Fusion GPS, which was initially paid by a conservative website tied to Republicans and then later by Democrats to carry out the research into Trump, criticized the senators for the referral and also for publicizing it. Nunes' committee has been seeking information about Steele's research for months. Leon said the subpoena could "reasonably produce information relevant" to the committee's inquiry.

Donald Trump has threatened to sue a publisher over a book he doesn't like.

Four individuals, including three former campaign officials, have so far been indicted as part of an ongoing criminal federal investigation into whether or not Trump officials conspired with the Kremlin, including Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Simpson added: "We're extremely proud of our work to highlight Mr Trump's Russian Federation ties".

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