Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism Chairman Lindsey Graham have referred the Christopher Steele to the Justice Department for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 for false statements “investigators have reason to believe Steele made to them,” according to Senator Grassley’s press release. Steele is of course the apparent author of the dossier of memos full of salacious misinformation and disinformation provided by the friends of Vladimir Putin to the Clinton presidential campaign via Fusion GPS and the Perkins Coie attorney who served as the Clinton campaign’s general counsel.
“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.
Senator Grassley’s press release notes that 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 the referral. It also makes clear that the referral does not pertain to the veracity of claims contained in the dossier.
The press release adds that 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.