Many details surrounding the now-infamous "Trump Dossier," from who funded it to how exactly it made it's way into the hands of the FBI and whether or not it was relied upon to secure FISA warrants to spy on members of Trump's campaign, are critical to determining whether partisan politics, or fact-based investigative work, drove the DOJ's initial efforts in its Russia probe.
Now, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) say they've uncovered what they believe is sufficient evidence to refer the author of the dossier, ex-MI6 spy Christopher Steele, to the Justice Department for an investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 for false statements about the distribution of claims contained in the dossier.
“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 said.
“Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI. 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. In any event, it’s up to the Justice Department to figure that out.”
“After reviewing how Mr. Steele conducted himself in distributing information contained in the dossier and how many stop signs the DOJ ignored in its use of the dossier, I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter. The rule of Law depends on the government and all who work on its behalf playing by the rules themselves. I hope the Department of Justice will carefully review our letter and take appropriate action,” Graham said.
According to the letter, yesterday evening Grassley and Graham delivered to Senate Security a letter and classified memorandum for delivery to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray containing information that forms the basis of their referral, which they describe as follows:
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, individuals are prohibited from making false statements to the federal authorities of the United States. Grassley and Graham are referring Steele for making potentially false statements about the distribution of claims from the dossier.
This referral does not pertain to the veracity of claims contained in the dossier. The referral is for further investigation only, and is not intended to be an allegation of a crime.
It is the practice of the committee to notify the Justice Department whenever it comes across what appears to be credible evidence of a criminal violation that warrants further investigation by appropriate authorities based on information from any source, public or non-public.
In the interest of transparency, the senators and committee staff are working to redact all sensitive information in the classified memorandum sent to Rosenstein and Wray. If and when that process can be lawfully and appropriately completed in consultation with the Justice Department, an unclassified version of the memorandum will be released.
Of course, the only question is whether the alleged false statements made by Steele will result in the same punishment as that bestowed upon Michael Flynn or whether there is an exemption for false statements provided they were intended to harm the current administration.
Here is the full statement by Grassley and Graham:
And here is the referral to the Deputy AG Rosenstein and FBI Director Wray: