Published: Sat, January 06, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

GOP senators send criminal referral to DOJ for dossier author

GOP senators send criminal referral to DOJ for dossier author

Two Republican senators have made the first known criminal referral in congressional investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, targeting the author of a dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump's ties to Russia.

The senators' referral states: "Based on the information contained therein, we are respectfully referring Mr Steele to you for investigation of potential violations. for statements the Committee has reason to believe Mr Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained".

The referral comes after Republicans in Congress have made several attempts in recent weeks to undermine the credibility of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the Justice Department and the FBI, charging there is anti-Trump bias within the ranks of federal agents and prosecutors.

Graham and Grassley did not provide evidence to back up their referral, but said they had sent Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray a classified attachment to accompany their referral.

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.

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Instead of focusing on the Russian Federation claims, Simpson said, key Republicans have instead made him the focus of their investigations.

The Intelligence Committee has attempted to slap contempt citations on the department and the FBI for its investigation into claims of Russian collusion in the dossier. It was not immediately clear from the referral what Steele allegedly lied to investigators about.

For months, it was suspected that the Steele dossier, which was shared with United States intelligence agencies after the 2016 election, may have prompted the FBI's decision to open an investigation into the matter.

The Judiciary Committee probe is one of three congressional investigations into Russian interference into the U.S. election, and is separate from Robert Mueller's probe. "I hope the Department of Justice will carefully review our letter and take appropriate action". The others are the Senate and House Intelligence Committees.

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.

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"I think this referral is unfortunate as 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 Russian Federation to influence the election and whether there was subsequent obstruction of justice", Feinstein said in a statement.

The Judiciary Committee has not interviewed Steele.

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. Leon said the subpoena could "reasonably produce information relevant" to the committee's inquiry.

Four individuals, including three former campaign officials, have so far been indicted as part of an ongoing criminal federal investigation into whether or not Trump officials conspired with the Kremlin, including Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. "We should all be sceptical in the extreme".

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