GOP senators send criminal referral to DOJ for dossier author

Posted January 06, 2018

Chuck Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham stated that they believed Christopher Steele, author of the now-infamous Trump dossier, should be investigated for allegedly making false statements to authorities.

Blumenthal appeared on MSNBC tonight, and Steve Kornacki--filling in for Chris Matthews--asked him if he's aware of the evidence they're citing "that justifies the investigation".

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 US investigations, including one led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Papadopoulos reportedly drunkenly revealed to an Australian diplomat that he had knowledge that Russian Federation had damaging information on former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, which prompted the diplomat to turn to federal investigators.

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 a cover letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray released by the committee, the senators say the referral relates to "certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple US news outlets regarding the so-called 'Trump dossier.'" The rest of the referral is classified and was not released.

The referral was made Thursday but revealed Friday.

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Lawmakers can not prosecute, but generally refer any criminal violations they find to the Justice Department.

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In the letter released by the senators, Grassley and Graham neither identify anyone to whom they believed Steele lied nor do they identify any news outlet.

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.

"Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI", Grassley said in a statement.

More recently, Mueller's investigators interviewed Steele in Europe as part of their probe into Russian election interference and ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin.

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On Friday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of CT, a Democrat on the Judiciary committee, called the move a partisan effort "aimed at someone who reported wrongdoing, rather than committed it".

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.

Were Sessions to step down, however, Trump would merely need to find someone willing to quash the investigation (and lie to the Senate about his or her willingness to do so).

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.

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

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