Fusion GPS: Request for criminal probe is 'attempt to discredit government sources'

Fusion GPS: Request for criminal probe is 'attempt to discredit government sources'
© Greg Nash

The research firm behind the controversial Trump-Russia dossier is calling the request from two GOP senators to open a criminal investigation into its author an “attempt to discredit government sources.”

Republican Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Hillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill MORE (Iowa) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Kyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two MORE (S.C.) on Friday sent a letter to the Justice Department seeking a criminal probe into Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, to investigate whether he lied to federal authorities.

“After a year of investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, the only person Republicans seek to accuse of wrongdoing is one who reported on these matters to law enforcement in the first place,” a lawyer for Fusion GPS said in a statement.

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“Publicizing a criminal referral based on classified information raises serious questions about whether this letter is nothing more than another attempt to discredit government sources, in the midst of an ongoing criminal investigation. We should all be skeptical in the extreme,” the statement adds.

The dossier, which brought national attention when it was published in full by Buzzfeed News, contains controversial information linking President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE to Russia.

In a Friday statement, Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that "after reviewing how Mr. Steele conducted himself in distributing information contained in the dossier and how many stop signs the DOJ ignored in its use of the dossier, I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter."

Grassley and Graham's letter is the first known instance of lawmakers investigating the Russian election meddling making a criminal referral.

The Fusion GPS dossier has emerged as a major sticking point in the probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. GOP lawmakers have questioned if the dossier, which received financial backing from both Republicans and Democrats while Trump was a candidate, was the starting point of the FBI's investigation.