Grassley Renews Effort To Impugn The Author Of The Trump Dossier

Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America

Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is still going hard after Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy who compiled the so-called Trump dossier.

After referring Steele to the Justice Department last month for criminal prosecution, Grassley was back at it Monday, publicly releasing a heavily redacted version of a memo alleging that Steele materially misled the FBI about his contacts with the media.

Grassley released his memo, which he sent Justice Department last month with the criminal referral for Steele, after receiving permission from the FBI to do so, with redactions. He unveiled it Monday alongside a letter to the Justice Department seeking that the department declassify the material redacted in the memo.

“The government should not be blotting out information that it admits isn’t secret, and it should not take dramatic steps by Congress and the White House to get answers that the American people are demanding,” Grassley said in a press release accompanying the memo and the letter.

Grassley’s desire to release a memo impugning Steele echoes the efforts of House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes, whose widely-debunked memo released last week alleged the FBI misled a surveillance court about its use of Steele’s research in a Russia probe FISA application.

With the redactions, it’s hard to make out exactly what Grassley is accusing Steele of. However, the unredacted portions of his memo reference fall 2016 media reports on Steele’s work, as well as statements Steele has made in a British lawsuits about his media contacts during that period.

According to the press release, some the redacted portions include “verbatim quotes” from the surveillance application the Justice Department sought for Trump campaign advisor Carter Page in October 2016, after he had left the campaign. That application was the heart of the House Intel memo released last week.

The Justice Department and the FBI very publicly opposed the released of the House Intel memo. President Trump okayed its publication Friday over their objections, which included a personal appeal from his hand-picked FBI Director Chris Wray.

Among the other hints in the unredacted portions of Grassley’s memo is an allusion to another memo associated with Steele that was separate from the dossier Buzzfeed published in 2017. That memo, Grassley suggested, included a report of information that came from a “a friend of the Clintons” that was passed to Steele via a State Department source.

“It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility,” Grassley’s memo said.

The criminal referral and the underlying memo — which Grassley compiled with the Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who chairs the the Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism — marked the first criminal referral Congress has sought in its competing Russian probes.

Previous reports had suggested that the investigation Grassley was leading is less focused on Russia election meddling, and more concerned whether the Justice Department and FBI were “operating free from political influence,” as a Grassley aide told the Daily Beast last year.

Read the redacted version of his memo below:

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