Graham: Evidence shows Russia probe unjustified
Politics | Declassified documents show the FBI doubted key intelligence
by Harvest Prude
Posted 7/22/20, 11:40 am
Republicans and Democrats in Washington continue to debate whether the FBI had a good reason to open the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. Since special counsel Robert Mueller announced in 2019 that he did not turn up evidence of collusion, GOP leaders in the Senate have demanded accountability for what they say was a politically motivated attack on the president.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday released declassified FBI documents showing bureau officials initially questioned the validity of claims that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was in contact with Russian intelligence officers. Now Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., plans to issue subpoenas to dozens of people connected with Mueller’s investigation. He told The Wall Street Journal he wants to hear from anyone who may have sat on exculpatory information about Trump and his associates.
One of the declassified documents shows FBI agents doubted information gathered by British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The unnamed source responsible for some of the more explosive claims in the Steele dossier, which helped launch the investigation, relied on six sources of his own but could not verify the claims himself.
“Steele may not be in a position to judge the reliability of his subsource network,” former FBI agent Peter Strzok noted in one of the released documents.
The FBI later fired Strzok for sending anti-Trump text messages, but even he called into question mainstream reporting on alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russians.
“We have not seen evidence of any officials associated with the Trump team in contact with [Russian intelligence],” Strzok wrote on the margins of a New York Times article circulated internally. “We are unaware of ANY Trump advisers engaging in conversations with Russian intelligence officials.”
The Feb. 14, 2017, article stated as a matter of fact that members of Trump’s 2016 campaign had repeated contact with senior Russian intelligence officers the year before the election.
“The statements by Mr. Strzok question the entire premise of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign and make it even more outrageous that the Mueller team continued this investigation for almost 2½ years,” said Graham, who announced plans to bring Mueller before his committee after the special counsel wrote a Washington Post op-ed following Trump’s commutation of his friend Roger Stone’s pardon this month.
Democratic lawmakers have accused Graham of leading a politically motivated investigation.
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