Addressing the elephant in the room

Grassley memo confirms Nunes memo

Criminal referral

A newly released version of GOP senators’ criminal referral for Trump dossier author Christopher Steele appears to support key claims from the controversial memo on alleged surveillance abuse released last week by House Republicans and the White House.

That memo, commissioned by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., continues to fuel a firestorm on Capitol Hill, where Democrats are pushing for the release of their own counter-memo. A central point of dispute is the Nunes document’s claim that the fake, anti-Trump dossier was crucial to the FBI’s efforts to seek a surveillance warrant for a Trump associate and that the applications omitted the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign’s funding for the research via Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS firm – which hired Steele.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., appeared to back up those claims, though, in a criminal referral sent in early January to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

criminal referral

Further, they said the application “failed to disclose that the identities of Mr. Simpson’s ultimate clients were the Clinton campaign and the DNC.”

The surveillance applications, they said, “relied heavily on Mr. Steele’s dossier claims.”

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The referral also helps explain a point of contention in recent days, after Nunes seemed to admit on “Fox & Friends” after the release of his memo that the FBI application did include a “footnote” acknowledging some political origins of the dossier. This admission helped fueled Democratic claims, from ranking Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and others, that the dossier’s political connection was not concealed from the surveillance court as alleged.

According to Grassley and Graham’s referral, the FBI “noted to a vaguely limited extent the political origins of the dossier” in a footnote that said the information was compiled at the direction of a law firm “who had hired an ‘identified U.S. person’ – now known as Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS.” A subsequent passage in the letter is redacted. But they said the DNC and Clinton campaign were not mentioned.

Trey Gowdy said on Fox News Tuesday night that Clinton family confidant Sidney Blumenthal was a key figure for Steele.

MacCallum then asked, “So, weeks before the election, somebody in the Obama State Department was feeding information from a foreign source to Christopher Steele?”

Gowdy answered, “When you hear who the source, or one of the sources of that information is, you’re going to think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve heard that name somewhere before. Where could it possibly have been?’”

Gowdy clarified that he was referring to the domestic source, and added, “I’m trying to think how Secretary Clinton defined him. I think she said he was an old friend who emailed her from time to time.”

MacCallum then asked, “Sidney Blumenthal?”

Gowdy responded, “That’d be really warm. You’re warm. Yeah.”

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