Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., slammed the criminal referral of Christopher Steele by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., saying it has numerous “flaws” and “omits key facts.”
In a five-page analysis released Friday, Feinstein says the criminal referral is “not based on any allegation” that Steele, the author of the infamous Trump-Russia dossier, lied to FBI investigators about former Trump aide Carter Page, or what was included in the dossier.
“[N]either 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,” the analysis says.
This week Grassley made public more details from the Jan. 4 unclassified criminal referral of Steele. The referral asks the Department of Justice to investigate whether Steele lied to FBI investigators about his communications with the press.
The referral, which was first released in heavily redacted form on Monday, appears to confirm some level of coordination between the extended Clinton circle and the Obama administration in the effort to seek damaging information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The less-redacted referral fails to provide further illumination on the memo mentioned in the dossier obtained by BuzzFeed, which laid out how Steele allegedly received information from "a foreign sub-source who is in touch with [redacted], a contact of [redacted], a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to [redacted]" — redactions that appeared in the first issuance of the referral.
The unredacted referral does discuss the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court applications seeking permission for the government to spy on Page.
Feinstein’s analysis claims the Grassley-Graham referral omits “key facts,” because they failed to modify the referral “before and after” the Justice Department provided the committee with documents about its interactions with Steele. This includes an Oct. 19, 2016, report that Steele received information from a “friend of the Clintons.” According to Feinstein, 14 of the 17 memos within the Steele dossier were created by him before the Oct. 19. report.
Feinstein’s analysis concludes that the criminal referral “fails to make a case” that Steele actually lied o the FBI.
“The criminal referral contains no new information. All the information in the criminal referral was already available to the FBI and the Department of Justice,” the analysis concludes. “In fact, the referral relies on publicly available information and information that was provided to Congress from DOJ and the FBI.”
In a statement accompanying the analysis, Feinstein said the Grassley-Graham referral has goals that include “undermining the FBI and Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller’s investigation, attacking Christopher Steele and deflecting attention from collusion and obstruction of justice investigations.
“Not a single revelation in the Steele dossier has been refuted. 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,” she said.
The Justice Department has not yet publicly commented on the Grassley-Graham referral.