FBI Director Comey Will Testify Before Senate Committee Next Week

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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FBI Director James Comey will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley announced on Wednesday.

The March 3 hearing is part of the committee’s routine oversight of the FBI, though the event will likely center on the bureau’s investigation into Trump advisers’ possible ties to the Russian government.

During his last appearance on Capitol Hill, at a House Intelligence Committee hearing last month, Comey acknowledged that the FBI is conducting a counter-intelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts,” he said.

Comey offered little additional comment on the investigation, though details have trickled out in news reports.

CNN has reported that the FBI obtained a warrant to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. A judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the warrant in September, after Page left the campaign.

As part of its application for the warrant, the FBI cited a 2013 investigation into a Russian spy ring which attempted to recruit Page, an energy consultant who joined the Trump campaign as a low-level adviser in March.

In the application, FBI officials also cited an uncorroborated dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. The document makes various allegations about Trump advisers’ ties to the Kremlin, including that Page was met secretly with Russian operatives to discuss ways to influence the election.

Page has denied the allegations in what he calls the “dodgy dossier.”

Grassley has pressed Comey on various aspects of the investigation in recent weeks, including the FBI’s reliance on the dossier. The Republican has asked Comey about FBI agents’ meetings with Steele last year and about an informal agreement to pay the ex-MI6 agent to continue his research into Trump.

Grassley has said the arrangement is troubling because Steele was working for an opposition research firm — Fusion GPS — which was working for an ally of Hillary Clinton’s.

“The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for President in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics,” Grassley wrote in a March 6 letter to Comey. (RELATED: FBI Director Pressed On Agreement With Trump Dossier Author)

FBI agents reportedly met Steele in July to discuss his research. During another meeting in October, FBI agents reportedly offered Steele $50,000 to conduct more research on Trump and to corroborate his previous findings.

The money was never paid, suggesting that Steele was unable to verify his information. It emerged this week that Steele himself said in court filings that at least one of the memos in the dossier contained “unverified” information. (RELATED: Ex-Spy Who Wrote Trump Dossier Says Some Of It Is ‘Unverified’)

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