The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is demanding to know why the FBI wanted to pay the author of the so-called Trump Dossier, the dubious report that smeared President Donald Trump and was leaked to the media just before the Jan. 20 inauguration.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) told FBI Director James Comey in a March 28 letter he wants more information on the involvement of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in the Trump investigation into Russian ties.
“Was [Andrew] McCabe involved in any FBI interactions with Mr. Steele? If so, please explain.”
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The contents of the largely debunked dossier suggest intricate links between Trump and associates and Russian spies.
Grassley wants to know why the FBI considered paying the author of the dossier and is also looking at McCabe’s deep ties to the Clinton family and their longtime consigliere, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
McAuliffe helped arrange $700,000 in donations to McCabe’s wife for a state Senate run, according to the Washington Examiner.
Those ties have Grassley concerned McCabe may have acted in the interest of politics.
The dossier, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele for Trump’s campaign opponents, was leaked to the media last fall, but lay untouched for months by journalists who could not confirm its contents.
On Jan. 10, the entire dossier was published by BuzzFeed, after CNN reported on the existence of the dossier.
Publishing the unverified claims in the dossier, with all of its salacious and dubious claims, angered the Trump transition team. And Grassley is still suspicious about McCabe’s involvement in the dossier issue, as well as other issues that have drawn complaints from the Trump White House.
“Was Mr. McCabe involved in any FBI interactions with Mr. Steele?” Grassley asked. “If so, please explain.”
Grassley also wants to know if McCabe has been involved in any approvals of surveillance, which Trump claims happened during the transition.
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“Has Mr. McCabe been involved in any requests or approvals for physical surveillance, consensual monitoring, searches, or national security letters relating to the investigation?” asked Grassley. “If so, please provide all related documents.”
Grassley reminded Comey of a letter from former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that the current director keeps on his desk. Hoover, the longtime FBI leader, was infamous for improperly surveilling citizens.
“At your speech last Thursday at the University of Texas, you referenced former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s short letter to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, which sought authorization for FBI surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. without any proper basis for doing so,” Grassley wrote. “You mentioned that you keep this letter on your desk, and place FISA applications awaiting your review on top of it, as a reminder. You cited this to emphasize the importance of oversight over the FBI, even over well-meaning FBI officials, to ensure the propriety of the FBI’s actions.”
Grassley said the committee wants the answers by April 11.