Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Senators Press FBI, DNI for More Information on Failed Efforts to Corroborate Steele Dossier

Oct 15, 2020
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairmen of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Finance Committees, respectively, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe seeking an unredacted version of a spreadsheet created to attempt to corroborate allegations made in the discredited Steele Dossier.
 
“This spreadsheet clearly shows that the FBI failed to corroborate key information in the discredited, DNC-funded, Steele dossier yet continued to use it to justify surveillance against Carter Page,” the senators wrote. “The version of the document that has been made public contains redactions which raises questions about how the FBI interpreted some of the information in the Dossier.”
 
The full text of the senators’ letter is below and can be found here.
 
October 14, 2020
 
The Honorable John Ratcliffe
Director of National Intelligence
 
The Honorable Christopher A. Wray
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
 
Dear Director Ratcliffe and Director Wray:
 
As part of its Crossfire Hurricane investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) created a 94-page spreadsheet in an attempt to corroborate the allegations contained in the Christopher Steele dossier.  The existence of this spreadsheet has been well-documented over the last two years.[1]  Based on this spreadsheet and other information, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ OIG) determined in its December 2019 report that,
 
the FBI concluded, among other things, that although consistent with known efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections, much of the material in the Steele election reports, including allegations about Donald Trump and members of the Trump campaign relied upon in the Carter Page FISA applications, could not be corroborated; that certain allegations were inaccurate or inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team; and that the limited information that was corroborated related to time, location, and title information, much of which was publicly available.[2]
 
This spreadsheet clearly shows that the FBI failed to corroborate key information in the discredited, DNC-funded, Steele dossier yet continued to use it to justify surveillance against Carter Page.  The version of the document that has been made public contains redactions which raises questions about how the FBI interpreted some of the information in the Dossier.  Further, although this spreadsheet falls squarely within the scope of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s (HSGAC) August 6, 2020 records subpoena, the FBI has failed to produce the original version of the spreadsheet.  Accordingly, we ask that you answer the following questions and produce the following information and material:
 
  1. An unredacted version of the spreadsheet;
 
  1. The names and positions of all individuals that worked on this spreadsheet; and
 
  1. The dates for when this spreadsheet was created, edited, and finalized.
 
  1. According to the spreadsheet, it appears that the FBI opened an investigation into Paul Manafort on January 13, 2016, regarding “money laundering and tax evasion.”[3]  Did the FBI open a case against Manafort on that date?  If not, on what date was it opened?  
 
  1. What steps, if any, did the FBI take to alert the Trump campaign about its investigation into Manafort when he joined the Trump campaign in March 2016?[4] 
 
  1. Did the FBI request information about Manafort from a Ukrainian delegation during meetings scheduled on January 19, 2016 and January 20, 2016 with Obama administration officials?[5] If so, what information did the FBI request and why?
 
We request that you provide this information no later than October 16, 2020.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ron Johnson
Chairman
Senate Committee on Homeland Security
     and Governmental Affairs
                                 
Charles E. Grassley                                                  
Chairman                                                                     
Senate Finance Committee
 
-30-
 

[1] See, e.g., John Solomon, FBI’s spreadsheet puts a stake through the heart of Steele’s dossier, The Hill (Jul. 16, 2019), https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/453384-fbis-spreadsheet-puts-a-stake-through-the-heart-of-steeles-dossier; see also U.S. Dep’t of Just. Off. Of Inspector Gen., Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation (2019), at 101-02 [hereinafter IG Report].
[2] IG Report at 172 (emphasis added).
[3] SENATE-FISA2020-001644; see also Footnote 332 at SENATE-FISA2020-001676.
[4] Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, Donald Trump Hires Paul Manafort to Lead Delegate Effort, The New York Times(Mar, 28, 2016),  https://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/03/28/donald-trump-hires-paul-manafort-to-lead-delegate-effort/.
[5] See Exhibits from Majority Staff Report at 175-177, https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Report%20documents.pdf.