US Republican senators seek charges against Trump dossier author

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The Judiciary Committee is conducting one of the three congressional investigations into Russian interference, and the controversial dossier has come under scrutiny. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham referred British spy Christopher Steele to the Department of Justice so that they could look into whether Steele made false statements to the agency "about the distribution of claims" in the dossier he authored.

During the first week of 2018, investigators and the president's allies alike zeroed in on the Department of Justice, with two Republican congressmen calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, suing the department, seeking to limit its powers.

"Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI", Grassley said in a statement. "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". Maybe there is some innocent explanation for the inconsistencies we have seen, but it seems unlikely.

Lawmakers can not prosecute, but generally refer any criminal violations they find to the Justice Department.

The dossier is a compilation of memos Steele wrote during the 2016 campaign that contained several allegations of connections between Trump and Russian Federation, including that Trump had been compromised by the Kremlin.

After Trump won the Republican nomination in July 2016, backers of Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton started financing Steele's work via Washington research firm Fusion GPS.


There are now three ongoing congressional investigations into allegations of Russian interference in the election and complicity by Donald Trump's campaign team. Republicans counter that the dossier may have influenced federal authorities when they chose to open a counterintelligence investigation into associates of Mr. Trump before the election, and say that the Obama-era Justice Department may have been prejudiced against their then-nominee.

In recommending a criminal investigation into Steele, Grassley and Graham aren't calling the contents of his dossier into question but rather claiming there's evidence he lied to the FBI about contacts with journalists.

Fusion GPS' lawyer Joshua Levy has referred to the scrutiny on Steele as a "smear" meant to muddy the waters of the investigation. "We should all be sceptical in the extreme".

"After a year of investigations into Donald Trump's ties to Russian Federation, the only person Republicans seek to accuse of wrongdoing is one who reported on these matters to law enforcement in the first place", Levy said.

The statement notes that the referral "is not meant to be an allegation of a crime".

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