Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Friday slammed her Republican colleagues after two top committee members referred former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele to the Justice Department for criminal investigation.
Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a copy of the committee’s referral on Steele accusing the former British spy of lying about his contacts with the media in order to disseminate the “discredited” dossier. The referral raises “concerns about [Steele’s] credibility,” and questions the FBI’s use of the dossier in requesting surveillance warrants on individuals related to Donald Trump’s campaign.
In a statement, Feinstein refuted the committee chairman’s characterization of Steele’s dossier.
“Not a single revelation in the Steele dossier has been refuted,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the claims in the criminal referral rely on classified information, so it’s difficult to
fully repudiate them here. However, as much as possible using unclassified information, the following points lay out the flaws in the criminal referral.”
“The criminal referral of Christopher Steele has nothing to do with accountability,” Feinstein’s statement reads. “Clearly its goals included undermining the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, attacking Christopher Steele and deflecting attention from collusion and obstruction of justice investigations.”
In a seven-point rebuttal, Feinstein torched claims made by Grassley and Graham in that referral.
“The criminal referral is not based on any allegation that Steele lied or misrepresented facts about Carter Page or what is included in the Steele dossier,” Feinstein wrote. “In fact, neither provide any evidence that any of the information in Steele’s dossier is wrong. Instead, the referral is limited to a single baseless allegation: that Steele lied about his contacts with the press.”
Feinstein said the referral “omits key facts” about Steele’s interactions with the Justice Department andante “fails to make the case that Steele lied to the FBI.” Noting Steele’s reputation as “a respected and reliable expert on Russia,” Feinstein added the former British MI6 agent “came forward out of concern for U.S. national security. Finally, Feinstein noted “the facts about Carter Page [outlined in Steele’s dossier] are not disputed.”
“Steele’s reporting was deemed reliable by the FBI,” Feinstein said. “The FISA court granted three renewals of the FISA warrant on Carter Page after learning of Mr. Steele’s contacts with the press, a fact that did not cause the FBI to question the reliability of his underlying reporting.”
“This Committee should dedicate its resources and attention to getting to the bottom of exactly what Russia did during the 2016 election and who was involved – not attacking voluntary sources and the nation’s leading law enforcement agencies,” she concluded