Steele dossier roils Capitol Hill anew after revelations about bias
Three Senate committee chairmen demanded answers this week about the role played by the Justice and State departments in furthering the goals of Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the discredited anti-Trump dossier that helped launch the special counsel’s investigation.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham fired off inquiries to the Justice Department inspector general and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while Sens. Charles E. Grassley and Ron Johnson, heads of the Finance and Homeland Security committees, respectively, sent their own letter to Mr. Pompeo and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday.
They were all reacting to news that Mr. Steele had communicated some of his work compiling the anti-Trump document to State Department employees.
Notes from a meeting between Mr. Steele and Kathleen Kavalec, who was then a department official, suggest Mr. Steele was intent on getting his information out in the public before the election, according to The Hill, which obtained the notes through an open-records request.
Some of the information was redacted.
Senators wondered what was redacted.
They also said the State Department notes suggest Mr. Steele had communicated with the press. That, they said, would contradict what the FBI had said when it used his unverified information to help win a secret surveillance warrant against one-time Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Besides, his focus on the elections suggests a political motive beyond the national security concerns he had proclaimed, the senators suggested.
“This important information further demonstrates the bias of the primary source of material that was the basis for the Carter Page FISA warrant,” Mr. Graham wrote in one of his letters.
Republicans recently have renewed their demands for answers about Mr. Steele and his role in the 2016 election.
Much of his dossier is unverified and other parts have been debunked, such as a claim that Moscow had tapes of President Trump before he was a political candidate cavorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. The special counsel’s report undercuts that narrative.
Mr. Grassley has said there’s a possibility that the information Mr. Steele, a foreign national, compiled was disinformation fed him by Russian operatives. Mr. Steele’s work was funded by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee through secret payments to a law firm, shielding the work from campaign finance disclosures.
New Attorney General William P. Barr has said he is investigating the possible use of Mr. Steele to feed disinformation to the highest levels of his department during the Obama years.