Four Senate Republicans seek special counsel to probe FBI's use of Steele dossier

- Maret 15, 2018

Four Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday sought the appointment of a second special counsel to aid the Department of Justice inspector general in probing the FBI's use of the so-called Steele dossier in its surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide.

The Judiciary panel's chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), was joined by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in requesting that DOJ name a special prosecutor to zero in on possible mishandling of the FBI's Russia investigation prior to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Specifically, the quartet raised concerns about the FBI's relationship with Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier of verified and unverified intelligence alleging a Russian effort to compromise now-President Donald Trump.

Grassley and Graham, who previously requested that the DOJ open a criminal probe of Steele's conduct, on Feb. 28 asked DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz to probe the department's handling of investigations into Trump transition or campaign officials, as well as the Trump administration before Mueller's appointment. Horowitz has been investigating possible DOJ misconduct related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation since early 2017.


The Republican senators noted in their Thursday letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that under current law, "the Inspector General does not have the tools that a prosecutor would to gather all the facts, such as the ability to obtain testimony from essential witnesses who are not current DOJ employees."

"Thus, we believe that a special counsel is needed to work with the Inspector General to independently gather the facts and make prosecutorial decisions, if any are merited," the Republicans continued. "The Justice Department cannot credibly investigate itself without these enhanced measures of independence to ensure that the public can have confidence in the outcome."

Sessions is currently weighing whether to heed an internal recommendation to terminate Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director whom House Republicans say testified in December that a warrant to monitor former Trump campaign aide Carter Page would not have been sought without the Steele dossier. (House Democrats have disputed that characterization of McCabe's testimony.)

If McCabe is not fired, he is scheduled to retire from DOJ on Sunday. Another central player in the dossier timeline is Bruce Ohr, who was recently demoted from a top DOJ post.


 

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