News & Politics

Sen. Grassley Presses Comey About FBI's Relationship with British Spy

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey on Friday requesting more details on the bureau’s relationship with the former British MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele, author of the infamous anti-Trump dossier.

Grassley’s committee is one of several congressional committees looking into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The chairman has been particularly interested in the dossier, which Steele compiled in 2015 and 2016 after he was hired by the Washington-based research firm Fusion GPS. As Mark Hemingway noted inThe Weekly Standard  back in January, Fusion GPS has “an institutional reputation for doing shoddy and underhanded political work, and nearly all of it has been at the behest of Democrats looking to attack Republicans.”

In his letter, Grassley said explanations Comey had provided about the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele differed from information the Judiciary Committee had recently received from the Justice Department.

“There appear to be material inconsistencies between the description of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele that you did provide in your briefing and information contained in Justice Department documents made available to the Committee,” Grassley wrote.

Grassley also sent a letter to Comey in early March asking if the FBI had ever hired Mr. Steele, as has been previously reported and denied, but he never heard back. He called this a “startling lack of responsiveness” in his latest letter.

“Whether those inconsistencies were honest mistakes or an attempt to downplay the actual extent of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele, it is essential that the FBI fully answer all of the questions from the March 6 letter and provide all the requested documents in order to resolve these and related issues,” Mr. Grassley wrote on Friday.

Mr. Grassley has also focused on whether the FBI knew Fusion GPS had allegedly been an unregistered agent when it worked for Russian interests in 2015 — the same time frame that it was compiling the anti-Trump dossier.

When Comey testifies before a routine Senate Judiciary oversight hearing on Wednesday, the Iowa Republican will likely press these issues with him.

On Fox News, Catherine Herridge reported that Steele recently told a British court that “large sections of that dossier were unverified and were never meant to be public in any form.”

That didn’t stop the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, from reading spurious allegations from the Trump dossier into the record during the March 20 Russia hearing.