Two Republican senators have created a detailed plan of action for how a second special counsel can investigate the FBI and Justice Department in how they handled the investigation that former FBI Director James Comey oversaw during his tenure, reports The Washington Times.
The senators specifically want to know whether Comey lied to them and had a plan to double-cross President Trump. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were the ones who wrote the letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week.
They and two other Republicans want a special counsel with the powers of the Trump-Russia probe’s Robert Mueller to investigate suspected Justice Department corruption.
They attached a second letter to Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, outlining all the avenues that need to be navigated — complete with new and expanded accusations. They want an investigation to look at whether Comey set up Trump as president-elect.
Comey was the one who broke the news about a “salacious and unverified” dossier, that supposedly told of Trump’s fun time in Moscow frolicking with prostitutes and overseeing Russia’s hacking of Democratic Party computers. At the moment Comey called the scintillating dossier “unverified,” the FBI was using it to justify a wiretap on former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.
The briefing instantly leaked to CNN, rocking the transition team with a series of unverified dossier accusations. BuzzFeed then posted the 35-page dossier, which remains unconfirmed publicly.
“There is a question as to whether the FBI included the dossier in the briefing, and possibly leaked that it had done so, in order to provide the media a pretext to report on the dossier,” Grassley and Graham wrote.
The Grassley-Graham letter also asserts that information provided to the Judiciary Committee by Comey in a private interview is directly contradicted by the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications to spy on Page. The senators also ask the inspector general to get to the bottom of one key question in the nearly yearlong wiretap warrant.
The FBI asked a FISA judge to approve the surveillance, mostly on the word of Steele’s dossier. The FBI did not disclose to the judge that the dossier was Democratic Party opposition research paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Republicans want Mr. Horowitz to find out why there was no disclosure.
“Did anyone express any concerns about the propriety of presenting unverified, uncorroborated claims from the Steele dossier as the basis for a FISA warrant on an American citizen?” the letter stated.
Since Oct. 21, 2016, FISA warrant allowed the FBI to seize emails and digital messages before the start of the Trump campaign, the senators asked if Obama administration political appointees read those documents.
After the FBI fired Steele for breaking the pledge not to go to the press, the investigation firm Fusion GPS, the dossier’s funder, set up a back channel to the bureau team investigation the Trump campaign, according to the letter. The flow of the information went from Steele to Fusion GPS to Associate Attorney General Bruce Ohr to FBI investigators.
The issue is this: Before a judge, the FBI used a Yahoo News story to bolster Steele’s claim that Page, while on a trip to Moscow, visited two high-ranking Kremlin figures and discussed bribes for sanctions. Page repeatedly has denied this under oath.
Comey has defended himself via his Twitter account against corruption charges from Trump. His memoir is due out April 17, and he has scheduled a busy round of media interviews.
“Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not,” he said.