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WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham pledged Thursday that he will hold hearings to get to the bottom of whether the FBI misled surveillance court judges by using the Steele dossier to obtain spy warrants against a former Trump campaign adviser.
“I promise, everybody in the country, that in the Senate, we’re going to have hearings about the FISA process,” Graham said at a Heritage Foundation event.
Graham, a Republican, has focused on how the FBI handled the dossier, which was written by Christopher Steele, a former British spy who investigated President Donald Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.
The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s dossier to obtain four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide.
In the dossier, Steele alleged that Page met with Kremlin insiders during the 2016 campaign. Steele also accused Page of working with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to conspire with Russians.
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Page has vehemently denied the claims, saying that he did not meet with the two Kremlin insiders Steele claims he met.
Graham and other Republicans have argued that the FBI failed to disclose Steele’s political motivations to the FISA judges. The FISA applications noted that Steele was working on behalf of someone who opposed Trump’s candidacy, but they did not identify the Clinton campaign and DNC as the former British spy’s clients.
Steele, a former MI6 official, was hired by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that was hired by the Clinton campaign and DNC’s law firm, Perkins Coie.
“Did the court adequately know the source of the document? Without the document, could you have gotten the warrant?” Graham asked rhetorically at Thursday’s event.
“This is a very big deal,” he added.
Republicans have also pointed to congressional testimony from Bruce Ohr, the Justice Department official who served as Steele’s back channel to the FBI. Ohr told lawmakers in an Aug. 28, 2018 interview that Steele told him in September 2016, a month before the first FISA was granted, that he was “desperate” that Trump not win the election.
Ohr said that he told FBI and Justice Department officials about Steele’s remarks, but Republicans have noted that those remarks are not included in the Page FISA applications.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of that the best we can. And we’ll do other stuff, too,” said Graham.