Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) took to the Senate floor Wednesday and expressed concern that the Justice Department and the FBI are not “doing their jobs free of partisan, political bias.” Grassley also suggested that the Steele dossier — allegedly the basis for the Russia investigation — was Russian propaganda.
Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pointed out that it took a subpoena and a court battle to force out the revelation that the anti-Trump dossier was linked to the Democratic Party. “Lawyers for the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign officials denied it to the press for months,” Grassley said. “In other words — they lied.”
He then pointed out that Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, also initially denied the link. “Steele, who was working for Fusion GPS, who in turn was working for the DNC and the Clinton campaign, was also working with the Russians. So, who was actually colluding with Russians? It’s becoming more clear,” Grassley said.
He also said that in the course of their review, he and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina came across conflicting statements from former British spy Christopher Steele, and that the discrepancies “are significant.”
Grassley said that those discrepancies and contradicting statements are what led him to refer Christopher Steele to federal law-enforcement officials for criminal investigation.
“Director Comey testified in 2017 that the dossier was ‘salacious and unverified,'” Grassley reminded his colleagues. “If it was unverified in 2017, then it had to be unverified in 2016. It was a collection of unverified opposition research funded by a political opponent in an election year.”
He asked: “Would it be proper for the Obama administration — or for that matter any administration — to use something like that to authorize further investigation that intrudes on the privacy of people associated with its political opponents?”
Grassley accused the FBI of using false classification claims to prevent his office from releasing pertinent information to the public: “I have already been pushing the Department to review the classified referral memorandum to confirm the memo’s classification markings so that we can release the unclassified portions as soon as possible. But now the Department has deferred to the FBI and the FBI is falsely claiming that three of our unclassified paragraphs each contain the same, or single, classified fact.”
Grassley expressed surprise at that because the paragraphs are based on what he called “non-government sources” and do not “repeat or confirm any information from any government document.”
One piece of information Grassley said the FBI claims the Senate cannot release is a fact that the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed with him more than once “in an unsecure space and on an unsecured phone line.”
The senator said he suspects that “a bureaucratic game of Hide the Ball” is going on.
Grassley called for the declassification and release of not just his referral memo in the Senate but also the House Intelligence Committee FISA memo, and the underlying documents referenced in those memos.
“The American people deserve the truth,” he declared. “Stale, recycled media spin from journalists and pundits who do not have all the facts is not enough,” he concluded. “The people are very hungry for facts.”