The Republican chairmen of two Senate committees are questioning how much of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe was “infected” by Russian disinformation, citing newly declassified information regarding the Steele dossier.
“Because these facts show the intention, means, and ability to plant Russian disinformation in Steele’s reporting, they suggest that the prevalence of such disinformation in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation may have been widespread,” Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson wrote in a letter Thursday to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The lawmakers are calling on Wray to turn over all intelligence documents reviewed by the bureau’s Crossfire Hurricane team, which conducted the counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign.
The letter is a follow-up to revelations over the past week that the FBI received evidence in 2017 that Russian operatives may have fed disinformation to Christopher Steele that ended up in the ex-spy’s dossier.
The footnotes, which Grassley and Johnson shook loose after a months-long battle with the Justice Department, said that the FBI received evidence on Jan. 12, 2017, that Steele’s findings regarding former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen were likely planted by Russian intelligence operatives. (RELATED: Steele Source Voiced ‘Strong Support’ For Hillary Clinton)
The FBI also received evidence on Feb. 27, 2017, that the dossier’s salacious allegation that the Kremlin had sexual blackmail material on Donald Trump was false information planted by Russian agents.
The footnotes also said that the FBI received evidence in June 2017 from the U.S. intelligence community that two Russian intelligence affiliates knew in early July 2016 that Steele was investigating then-candidate Trump.
Russian intelligence also targeted Steele’s private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.
“These recently declassified footnotes raise another issue of significant concern: what other parts of the FBI’s investigation were infected by Russian disinformation?” Grassley, of Iowa, and Johnson, of Wisconsin, asked in their letter to Wray.
Despite the possibility of Russian disinformation in Steele’s reports, the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane appears not to have disclosed the information in applications for wiretap authority against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
“We are deeply troubled by the Crossfire Hurricane team’s awareness of and apparent indifference to Russian disinformation, as well as by the grossly inaccurate statements by the FBI officials in charge of the investigation and its supervisory intelligence analyst,” wrote Grassley and Johnson, who chair the Senate Finance and Senate Homeland Security Committees, respectively.
They are calling on Wray to turn over the intelligence reports by April 30.
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