- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2018

Two top Senate Republicans announced Friday that they have officially requested the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into Christopher Steele, the key figure in the anti-Trump dossier that roiled the 2016 election.

Sens. Charles E. Grassley and Lindsey Graham said Mr. Steele appears to have misled the FBI in trying to push the contents of the dossier, which the two senators said violates federal law.

Mr. Grassley said that given some Trump campaign figures have been hit with criminal charges for lying to the FBI, it is fair that Mr. Steele — a Democratic-backed operative — face the same scrutiny.

“I don’t take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation,” Mr. Grassley said. 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.

“Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI,” he said. “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,” Mr. Grassley said.

He and Mr. Graham released a letter written Thursday officially making the referral, which they said was accompanied by a classified memo laying out “certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple U.S. news outlets regarding the so-called ‘Trump dossier’ that Mr. Steele compiled on behalf of Fusion GPS for the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee and also provided to the FBI.”

Mr. Graham said a special counsel should take a look at Mr. Steele’s behavior.

“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,” Mr. Graham said.

The anti-Trump memo contained salacious and unverified allegations against Mr. Trump and his campaign. After months of prodding and under threat of a court order, the Democratic National Committee admitted it had funded Fusion GPS, a firm that was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

At some point the dossier was also shared with top members of Congress and the FBI, and then-Director James Comey even raised the dossier with President Trump in a post-election meeting, which appears to have further soured the two men’s working relationship.

Democrats initially seized on the dossier, which news reports suggested may have fed the FBI investigation that now dogs the White House. But as Mr. Steele’s defense of his work has slipped, Democrats have distanced themselves, saying the Russia investigation is valuable even if the dossier was a sham.

Mr. Steele, a former British spy, insisted in the dossier that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia in an “extensive conspiracy.” Now facing a libel lawsuit, those claims have softened.

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