Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, are seeking an investigation into former FBI Director James Comey for the role he may have played in using the Russian dossier to set up President-elect Donald Trump.
In a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the senators specifically call for an investigation into a briefing Comey gave Trump in January 2017, days before he took office, during which the then-FBI director told the incoming president about the contents of the unverified dossier, The Washington Times reported.
The briefing was then leaked to the media and first reported by CNN. Buzzfeed quickly followed, posting the dossier in its entirety, which CNN linked to in its coverage.
“There is a question as to whether the FBI included the dossier in the briefing, and possibly leaked that it had done so, in order to provide the media a pretext to report on the dossier,” Graham and Grassley wrote in their letter to Horowitz.
The Graham-Grassley letter also raised the issue of testimony Comey offered in a private interview before the committee being contradicted by information the FBI provided to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the fall of 2016 to gain authority to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The testimony apparently involved the importance the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton campaign funded dossier played in the FISA court application.
“Did Director Comey intentionally mislead the committee?” the senators asked the inspector general.
“Did anyone express any concerns about the propriety of presenting unverified, uncorroborated claims from the Steele dossier as the basis for a FISA warrant on an American citizen?” Graham and Grassley also wondered.
The two lawmakers — along with Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., — in a separate letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week called for a second special counsel to be established to look into the FBI’s use of the dossier to obtain FISA warrants to surveil Page.
“The reason we want a special counsel is we believe crimes may have been committed,” Graham told Fox News late last week.
The letter also requested Horowitz’s office investigate the FBI’s relationship between the dossier’s author former British spy Christopher Steele and the high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr.
After the FBI discovered Steele was leaking information to the media, the Bureau officially cut ties with the informant; however, Ohr’s wife Nellie worked at Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele. Bruce Ohr reportedly remained a conduit between Steele and the FBI.
“Was anyone in the Justice Department, including senior leadership, aware that Mr. Ohr continued to pass information from Steele and Fusion GPS to the FBI even after Steele was suspended, and terminated, as a source?” the letter asked.
The four senators further noted in their letter to the DOJ the need for a second special counsel due to the inspector general’s office not being able to call key witnesses who do not work within the department.
In an Op-Ed earlier this year, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York accused the Obama administration of using the levers of government to purposely “entangle the new (Trump) administration in a criminal investigation as soon as it walked in the door of the White House.”
He argued it did so by using the antiquated Logan Act of 1799 as a pretext for the DOJ to launch its investigation into the Trump incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn based on phone conversations he had with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition.
The Logan Act prevents private citizens from functioning as representatives of the U.S. to foreign governments. It has rarely been invoked and never in relation to transition officials speaking to foreign officials, which is commonplace.
Portions of the Flynn-Kislyak conversations were leaked to media to build the Russia narrative, York argued.
The proof is in the pudding, according to the columnist.
“(W)hen it finally came time to charge Flynn with a crime, did prosecutors, armed with the transcripts of those Flynn-Kislyak conversations, choose to charge him with violating the Logan Act? Of course not,” York wrote. “But for the Obama team, the law had already served its purpose…to entangle the new administration in a criminal investigation as soon as it walked in the door of the White House.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.