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.
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 investigative firm behind the Steele dossier - the controversial memo that alleged extensive collusion between Donald Trump's campaign officials and Russian Federation - has claimed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation received "credible allegations" about a Kremlin conspiracy throughout the 2016 United States election campaign, including from inside the Trump camp.
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 USA news outlets regarding the so-called 'Trump dossier.'" The rest of the referral is classified and was not released. "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, an Iowa Republican, said in the statement Friday. 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".
Christopher Steele released a much-publicised dossier last January containing claims about Donald Trump that were said to show Moscow's interference in the presidential race. 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.
"Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI", Grassley is quoted as saying in the letter.
The FBI has reopened its absurd investigation of the Clinton Foundation. "The rule of Law depends on the government and all who work on its behalf playing by the rules themselves".
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Steele, a former MI-6 agent, was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate alleged ties between then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his campaign team with Russian actors. Nunes' committee has been seeking information about Steele's research for months.
The letter by Graham and Grassley also noted that they were not questioning "the veracity of claims contained in the dossier".
"The referral is for further investigation only, and is not meant to be an allegation of a crime", the committee's release said.
In an emailed comment, Joshua Levy, a lawyer for Fusion GPS, suggested that the senators' letter was an effort to undermine the special counsel's investigation.
Simpson added: "We're extremely proud of our work to highlight Mr Trump's Russian Federation ties".
"I don't take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation".