Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham on Friday announced they had referred Christopher Steele, the author of a controversial dossier about President Trump, to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, accusing him of making false statements about how and to whom the dossier was distributed.
“I don’t take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation. But, as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review,” Grassley, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.
“Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI. If the same actions have different outcomes, and those differences seem to correspond to partisan political interests, then the public will naturally suspect that law enforcement decisions are not on the up-and-up. Maybe there is some innocent explanation for the inconsistencies we have seen, but it seems unlikely. In any event, it’s up to the Justice Department to figure that out,' Grassley said.
Graham, who chairs the Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, said "After reviewing how Mr. Steele conducted himself in distributing information contained in the dossier and how many stop signs the DOJ ignored in its use of the dossier, I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter."
The senators said they sent a letter containing a classified memo explaining the basis for their referral to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday.
Senators @ChuckGrassley and @LindseyGrahamSC have referred Christopher Steele to @TheJusticeDept for investigation after information reviewed by committee investigators revealed significant inconsistencies in statements provided to authorities pic.twitter.com/MKhJlscdKP— Senate Judiciary (@senjudiciary) January 5, 2018
"Under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, individuals are prohibited from making false statements to the federal authorities of the United States. Grassley and Graham are referring Steele for making potentially false statements about the distribution of claims from the dossier," a statement from the Judiciary Committee said, adding "This referral does not pertain to the veracity of claims contained in the dossier."
The referral comes two days after Grassley sent another letter to Rosenstein, raising questions about the classified status of memos written by former FBI Director James Comey and whether or not Comey had leaked classified information.
According to the letter, four of the seven pages of memorandum containing conversations between Comey and President Trump, were marked classified.
Last year, Comey testified to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and revealed that he had leaked four of the seven pages of those memos to Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman and encouraged him to detail the memos to the press.
In his letter on Wednesday, Grassley said it was unclear to him whether pages of the memorandum were marked classified before or after Comey sent to the Richman.
"If it’s true that Professor Richman had four of the seven memos, then in light of the fact that four of the seven memos the Committee reviewed are classified, it would appear that at least one memo the former FBI director gave Professor Richman contained classified information," Grassley wrote.
The memos in question contained Comey's notes about conversations he had with Trump in the White House including a conversation in which Comey said Trump demanded his loyalty.
Comey's memo about that conversation sparked a national debate over whether or not Trump had obstructed justice and whether his demand was meant to slow the progression of investigations Russian collusion.