Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has long positioned himself largely on the correct side of the Trump-Russia investigation, if not necessarily because he thinks it’s the right thing to do, but because he thinks the Senate is important enough to investigate anything it darn well pleases. Grassley has supported the efforts of the Democrats on his committee to dig far and wide into the scandal. But his response to the fabled Trump-Russia dossier yesterday is turning heads.
Grassley said, in effect, that he doesn’t think the FBI should be relying on former MI6 agent Christopher Steele’s Trump-Russia dossier as part of its investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal. Grassley’s reasoning is that he hasn’t been able to get sufficient answers from the FBI as to how the dossier is being used (link). This comes just days after it was separately reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has taken over the FBI’s investigation of the dossier, meaning that Grassley’s words come at a crucial time – except he’s confused.
Senator Grassley is questioning whether the dossier itself is a reliable piece of evidence, which on its own is a fair assertion. Much of the dossier doesn’t name sources by their real names, and doesn’t explain its research methods. It would be like blindly quoting Wikipedia. But the dossier wasn’t intended to be used as a legal brief. It was crafted as a summation of an expert’s investigative work for the people who hired him. Accordingly, Mueller isn’t relying on the dossier itself.
Robert Mueller sent his team to London to meet with Steele, in order to discuss who and what his sources were. By all accounts, Mueller is using that information to work backward and verify the claims in the dossier independently. It’s also likely how the FBI was operating before Mueller took over. Chuck Grassley is upset that the FBI doesn’t see his committee as important enough to be forthcoming. But Grassley is confused as to how the dossier is actually being used.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report