The House Intelligence Committee chairman has written letters to 11 current and former high-ranking government officials demanding answers to ten questions pertaining to the unverified Steele dossier.
The list includes the question of when former President Obama was briefed about the dossier:
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) February 20, 2018
The FBI used the Clinton-funded, anti-Trump dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump adviser Carter Page before the 2016 election.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) asked that the questions be answered by March 2, 2018, according to a committee spokesman. The spokesman did not name the recipients.
“Enclosed please find a series of questions regarding the information contained in the Steele dossier, which was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary for America (Clinton Campaign) and used in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application targeting Carter Page,” the letter begins.
Here are the 10 questions:
- When and how did you first become aware of any of the information contained in the Steele dossier?
- In what form (s) was the information in the Steele dossier presented to you? By whom? (please describe each instance)
- Who did you share this information with? When? (Please describe each instance)
- What official actions did you take as a result of receiving the information contained in the Steele Dossier?
- Did you convene any meetings with the intelligence community and/or law enforcement communities as a result of the information contained in the Steele dossier?
- When did you first learn or come to believe that the Steele dossier was funded by a Democrat-aligned entity?
- When did you first learn or come to believe that the Steele dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and or Hillary for America (Clinton Campaign)?
- When did you first become aware that the Steele dossier was used to obtain a FISA order on Carter Page?
- Was President Obama briefed on any information contained in the dossier prior to January 5, 2017?
- Did you discuss the information contained in the Steele dossier with any reporters or other representatives of the media? If so, who and when?
As Byron York at the Washington Examiner points out, “it is impossible to predict how many recipients will answer Nunes’ letter”:
Some might respond without supplying substantive answers. Some might not respond at all, reasoning that a congressional subpoena ultimately has little power behind it.
But in recent weeks, some former officials, notably State Department veterans Victoria Nuland and Jonathan Winer, have made voluntary public statements about their own knowledge of and involvement in the dossier matter. At least as far as those two are concerned, it seems unlikely they would decline Nunes’ request since they have already talked about the dossier in appearances on television, a widely-distributed podcast, and a Washington Post op-ed.
A congressional subpoena can have “teeth” if Congress chooses to hold someone in contempt should the person refuse to testify or provide documents/answers. Contempt of Congress is a federal misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and a maximum one-year sentence in federal prison according to the Legal Information Institute.