WASHINGTON – In light of revelations that
Christopher Steele pushed dossier allegations to British intelligence last
year, in addition to working with Fusion GPS, Senate Judiciary Committee
Chairman Chuck Grassley pressed the FBI to explain what steps it took to
determine whether the underlying source of any foreign intelligence used in the
FBI’s Russia investigation was actually independent of Mr. Steele or his
network. Fusion GPS reportedly oversaw Mr. Steele’s creation of the dossier of
political opposition research alleging collusion between Trump associates and
Russia while the company also worked closely with Russian interests to undermine
United States sanctions against Russian human rights abusers. Chairman Grassley
called for the FBI to provide answers on materially inconsistent information
the FBI and Justice Department previously provided the Committee about the
bureau’s interactions with Christopher Steele in the Russia investigation and
their reliance on the dossier.
As revealed by Steele’s
attorneys in the British defamation lawsuit
against him, Steele also
provided some of the dossier contents to at least one foreign government. This
information could have been passed into intelligence sharing streams between
the United Kingdom and the United States, creating the false appearance of two
independent corroborating sources. It is unclear whether Mr. Steele and his
associates also shopped dossier allegations, or related allegations, to
additional foreign governments, or whether any such resulting foreign
intelligence reports may have ended up in the FBI’s Russia investigation.
Because foreign intelligence agencies carefully guard their sources and
methods, it may not have been clear to the FBI if any foreign reporting shared
with the FBI was actually the result of efforts by Mr. Steele and Fusion GPS.
In his letter, Grassley inquires
as to whether any such foreign intelligence was relied upon in the FBI’s
investigation into alleged collusion between Trump associates and Russia.
Grassley also asks about what steps the FBI took to determine whether Steele
was the ultimate source of any foreign intelligence reports if any were used in
this investigation and what, if any, other foreign intelligence sources the FBI
relied on in seeking investigative authorities in the course of the investigation.
Grassley began asking questions
about the FBI’s work with Christopher Steele seven months ago, with a letter
to then-Director James Comey on
March 6. Since that first inquiry, the Committee’s questions have either gone
unanswered or been met with material inconsistencies. Grassley followed up on
that first letter with another on April 28
, with questions at the FBI’s
regular oversight hearing
before the Committee on May 3
and again in a classified letter on August 25 to the FBI’s new Director,
Christopher Wray, outlining the inconsistent information.
Full text of Grassley’s letter
to Director Wray follows.
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable Christopher Wray
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535
Dear Director Wray:
On March 6, 2017, I wrote to
then-Director Comey asking a series of questions stemming from press reports
about the FBI’s interaction with Mr. Christopher Steele, the former British spy
and purported author of the political opposition research dossier of allegations
of collusion against President Trump and his associates. While the Committee
did receive some information in response, most of the questions went
unanswered, and the information the Committee received contained material
To address these
inconsistencies, I sent a follow up letter on April 28, requesting that the FBI
answer all the questions in the original letter, explain the inconsistencies,
and answer some additional questions. Although Mr. Comey indicated at his
oversight hearing on May 3, 2017, that the FBI would provide answers, the
President fired him shortly thereafter. The Committee has received no
additional information about these issues from the FBI. The Committee continues
to need this information to perform its constitutional duty of oversight of the
FBI. On August 25, 2017, I sent you a classified letter addressing the issues
in detail. I have yet to receive a response to that letter.
There is another
concern about Mr. Steele’s and Fusion GPS’s work that the FBI needs to address.
Public reports indicate that the FBI received the dossier and has used it in
the Russia investigation. However, it appears that the FBI, the media, and
various Congressional offices were not the only recipients of the dossier prior
to its publication. In court filings by Mr. Steele’s attorneys in London, he
admitted that he had passed at least some contents of the dossier to at least
one foreign government – the United Kingdom.
have also claimed that foreign governments passed along information to the
United States about purported contacts between Trump associates and Russians.
Given that Mr. Steele also distributed the dossier’s contents to at least one foreign
government, it is possible that this political dossier’s collusion allegations,
or related allegations originating via Mr. Steele, may have also been
surreptitiously funneled into U.S. intelligence streams through foreign
intelligence sharing. If so, that foreign information would likely have ended
up within the FBI’s investigation of allegations of collusion between Trump
associates and Russia. However, given that foreign intelligence agencies
carefully guard their sources and methods, it may not have been clear to the
FBI that the foreign reporting was actually based on the work of Mr. Steele and
If this in fact
happened, it would be alarming. Mr. Steele’s dossier allegations might appear
to be “confirmed” by foreign intelligence, rather than just an echo of the same
“research” that Fusion bought from Steele and that the FBI reportedly also
attempted to buy from Steele. It is even more alarming in light of what we are
learning about the allegedly unregistered Russian foreign agents who Fusion GPS
and Glenn Simpson were working with to undermine the Magnitsky Act and who met
with Trump family and campaign officials last summer.
must understand what steps the FBI has taken to ensure that any foreign
information it received and used in the Russia investigation, beyond the
dossier itself, was not ultimately sourced to Mr. Steele, his associates such
as Fusion GPS, or his sub-sources. Please respond to the following by no later
than October 18, 2017:
provide all foreign intelligence reports that are or have been part of the
FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion between Trump associates and Russia.
explain what steps, if any, the FBI took to determine whether Mr. Steele or his
network were the ultimate source of each foreign intelligence document
than the Steele dossier itself, did the FBI rely on any information provided by
foreign nationals or foreign governments in seeking investigative authorities
in the investigation of alleged collusion between Trump associates and Russia?
If so, please include the relevant warrant applications and related documents.
that your responses to these questions may contain both classified and
unclassified information. Please send all unclassified material directly to the
Committee. In keeping with the requirements of Executive Order 13526, if any of
the responsive documents do contain classified information, please segregate
all unclassified material within the classified documents, provide all
unclassified information directly to the Committee, and provide a classified
addendum to the Office of Senate Security. Although the Committee complies with
all laws and regulations governing the handling of classified information, it
is not bound, absent its prior agreement, by any handling restrictions or
instructions on unclassified information unilaterally asserted by the Executive
Thank you for
your prompt attention to this important matter. If you have any questions,
please contact Patrick Davis of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225.
on the Judiciary
cc: The Honorable Dianne
on the Judiciary
Those filings are attached to this letter.