Earlier today, a group of top Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee made their first criminal referral in their Russia investigation — only it was not against President Trump and his minions, but against whistleblower Christopher Steele.
Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned the now-infamous dossier detailing Trump-Russia collusion from the respected former MI6 spy, is speaking out against what is a shameless case of political misdirection.
Just in: Sens. Grassley and Graham are referring Christopher Steele to DOJ "for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, for statements the Committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier." pic.twitter.com/VltWm70pVr
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) January 5, 2018
One of the firms lawyers stated today, “After a year of investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, the only person Republicans seek to accuse of wrongdoing is one who reported on these matters to law enforcement in the first place.”
Rightly, the lawyer went on to illustrate how Senate judiciary chair, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), committee member Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and others who signed the letter calling for a criminal investigation of Steele, have launched what amounts to a PR campaign intended to aid Trump in obstructing justice in the Russia probe:
‘Publicizing a criminal referral based on classified information raises serious questions about whether this letter is nothing more than another attempt to discredit government sources, in the midst of an ongoing criminal investigation. We should all be skeptical in the extreme.’
The Hill writes, “Grassley and Graham’s letter is the first known instance of lawmakers investigating the Russian election meddling making a criminal referral.”
Ranking Senate Judiciary Democrat, California’s Dianne Feinstein echoed Fusion GPS’ alarm, adding that she had not been consulted in her Republican colleagues’ decision:
‘It’s clearly another effort to deflect attention from what should be the committee’s top priority, determining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election and whether there was subsequent obstruction of justice.’
Even the Republican senators themselves did not argue that Steele’s dossier is untrue, only that they objected to how he “distributed” the dossier.
Steele gave the dossier — many details of which have proven true and none of which have been disproved — to the FBI, expressing his alarm about what he saw as an ongoing state crime committed by the Trump campaign.
He provided thousands of pages of evidence detailing how the Kremlin was helping Trump win the 2016 presidential election, in exchange for an eventual Trump administration lifting sanctions against Russia for its invasion of the Ukraine.
His dossier, it turns out, did not come as news to the FBI, who had secretly been conducting their own investigation on the conspiracy for some time.
Instead, Steele’s intelligence only corroborated evidence the FBI had already gathered.
However, Grassley and other Senate Republicans purport to see Steele’s actions as criminal, not those of Trump and his inner circle.
They willfully ignore the fact that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has been indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. in exchange for his testimony against the President, and Trump’s former foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos also has a plea deal with Special Prosecutor Mueller.
When the corrupt and criminal @realDonaldTrump is finally forced out of the Oval Office, every Republican member of Congress who aided and abetted his efforts to undermine our Constitution and weaken our democracy will go down in history as traitorous scoundrels. #ImpeachTrump
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) January 5, 2018
They have chosen our madman President over our country by going after the good guys.
In so doing, Republicans have hitched their wagons to a falling star.