In the letter released by the senators, Grassley and Graham neither identify anyone to whom they believed Steele lied nor do they identify any news outlet.
Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham called on the Department of Justice to investigate former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the controversial, and largely unsubstantiated dossier on President Trump's alleged connections to Russian Federation. They also insisted that they were not accusing Steele of committing a crime, but merely referring the matter for further investigation. "But, as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review", Grassley said in a statement.
A pair of top Republican senators have asked for a special counsel to be appointed to investigate Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer behind the controversial Trump-Russia dossier.
Sky's US Correspondent Greg Milam said many in Washington view it as a PR stunt from Republican senators loyal to the President who "want to put up a smoke screen about the investigation into his ties with Russia".
The American legal system is really getting a workout these days, now that we have a president who sees courts and the Justice Department primarily as tools to take revenge on his enemies. However, CNN's reporting shows a number of pieces of intelligence separate from the dossier raised concerns among United States national security officials and propelled an investigation.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, one of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, slammed committee chair Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham for their letter recommending a criminal investigation into Christopher Steele.
"I think this referral is unfortunate as 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 Russian Federation to influence the election and whether there was subsequent obstruction of justice", Feinstein said in a statement. "I'll continue to stand strong against any efforts to undermine Special Counsel Mueller's investigation, as well as the ongoing congressional investigations", Feinstein said. Graham is the chairman of a Judiciary subcommittee that is investigating the Russian meddling. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.
Dated Jan. 4, the letter indicates the senators passed attached a classified memo "related to certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple USA news outlets regarding the so-called "Trump dossier" that Mr. Steele compiled on behalf of Fusion GPS for the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee and also provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation".
Although several news organizations, including Reuters, were briefed on Steele's dossier before the November 2016 election, most decided not to report on the material because its inflammatory and sometimes salacious content could not be verified. U.S. officials have corroborated some aspects of the dossier, although its most salacious allegations have not been corroborated by the intelligence community or CNN.