WASHINGTON, January 5, 2018: Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have issued the first criminal referral to the DOJ as a result of the Russian dossier by former M.I.6 Moscow field agent spy Christopher Steele.
Steele is an ex-Cambridge Union president, ex-adviser to British Special Forces on capture-or-kill ops in Afghanistan, and a 52-year-old father of four.
Christopher Steele stepped into the political spotlight in early 2017 after the Wall Street Journal reported that he was the author of the Trump dossier that alleged the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency. Steele would write that his sources, “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure” and a “ former top-level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin,” would claim that the Kremlin had spent years getting its hooks into Donald Trump.
The obvious question at this point is why?
Why would the Kremlin have been collecting information “in order to blackmail” private citizen Trump? Did they know, years ago, that he would someday run for president, win the nomination and the presidency in 2016? Doubtful.
And why did Senator John McCain and David J. Kramer, a former State Department official with Russia as his area of designation, meeting with Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Russia? And why did Sir Andrew reveal the findings of Steele’s dossier to the Arizona Senator?
Why did Kramer fly to Heathrow to meet with Steele in order to obtain the dossier, which, in one version or another, was already being shared by reporters. And for what reason did Senator McCain, with no other persons present or without the knowledge of the Senate Judiciary Committee pass the 45-page document on to James Comey?
And why did F.B.I director Comey choose to continue paying Steele to expand on the dossier, knowing that it was, at the very least, a bit sketchy?
Did Christopher Steele lie to federal authorities?
The Senators have told the Justice Department they have reason to believe that Steele lied to federal authorities.
“I don’t take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation. 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 says.
The committees are urging the DOJ to investigate. And liberals, like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are furious:
“It’s clearly another effort to deflect attention from what should be the committee’s top priority, determining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election and whether there was subsequent obstruction of justice,” says Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
The criminal referral of Christopher Steele does not verify the veracity of the dossier’s contents
Much of the dossier remains unsubstantiated nearly a year after it became public. The dossier, including memos that appear to have been written between June and December 2016, alleges that the Kremlin colluded with then candidate Trump’s campaign.
The dossier also claims that Russian officials have evidence of Mr. Trump’s behavior that they could use to blackmail him.
Mr. Trump has said the dossier is false. Russia has also denied claims of election interference or collusion with the Trump campaign. Despite over a year of hearing the liberals and media screed over candidate Trump’s Russian collusion, U.S. officials have still not verified any allegations, many of which are lurid and difficult to prove.
J. Edgar Hoover redux?
Former FBI director J Edgar Hoover also compiled secret files on politicians. Files that he would use to wield fear and power. Among Hoover’s targets were scientist Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. After his death, Hoover was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI, using the bureau to “harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods.”
During his tenure as the first F.B.I. director, Hoover amassed a great deal of power. He was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting presidents. And not always because of what he knew, but because of they did not know what he knew.
Obama bias reflective of Hoover?
Republicans are insisting that Obama-era political bias influenced the F.B.I.’s to open a counterintelligence investigation.
The senators are saying that the Steele dossier is simply political opposition research and while opposition research is not illegal, and a part of modern presidential campaigns, coming from representatives of a hostile foreign power is not acceptable.
The FBI allegedly continued to pay Steele to continue investigating Trump’s ties to Moscow. This even after the U.S. intelligence community concluded that the Kremlin had run an influence campaign to sway the presidential election in Trump’s favor.
Steele’s working for Russia on this project opens the door to the investigation. Despite whether or not Democrats were responsible for paying for it,
The dossier and FISA Warrants
Also of concern is whether the dossier was used to obtain FISA warrants that led to the wiretapping of the Trump campaign. The taps that ensnared former Trump aide General Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, and George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide. Both Flynn and Papadopoulos have pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I. in the investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
However, if the current federal inquiry into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia started with the dossier, and if the warrants were based on the dossier, they could be illegal. Former FBI director James Comey dismissed the dossier as “salacious and unverified” in his Senate testimony.
Senator Grassley, while not mentioning Flynn or Papadopoulos directly says:
“If the same actions have different outcomes, and those differences seem to correspond to partisan political interests, then the public will naturally suspect that law enforcement decisions are not on the up-and-up.”
It was not clear why the Justice Department has not moved to charge Christopher Steele. However, the circumstances under which Mr. Steele is alleged to have lied are unclear, as much of the referral was classified.