Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe

Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRon Johnson signals some GOP senators concerned about his Obama-era probes Democrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Hillicon Valley: Facebook removed over 22 million posts for hate speech in second quarter | Republicans introduce bill to defend universities against hackers targeting COVID-19 research | Facebook's Sandberg backs Harris as VP pick MORE (R-S.C.) on Friday released two recently declassified documents tied to the years-long Russia probe, including notes suggesting FBI officials were skeptical of reports in early 2017 of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials.

The documents — an annotated version of a New York Times story and a 57-page memo of an interview with a source for Christopher Steele, who compiled a controversial research dossier against then-candidate Trump — comes as Republicans are ramping up their Obama-era investigations.

Graham, a top ally of Trump's, is investigating "Crossfire Hurricane," the FBI's investigation into Russia's election interference and the Trump campaign, and former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's probe, which subsumed it.

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In one of the documents released by Graham, Peter Strzok, a former FBI agent, annotated a New York Times February 2017 article headlined "Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence."

"This statement is misleading and inaccurate as written. We have not seen evidence of any individuals affiliated with the Trump team in contact with IOs," one of Strzok's annotations reads, referring to intelligence officers.

"Again we are unaware of ANY Trump advisors engaging in conversations with Russian intelligence officials," he adds in another note.

Graham, in a statement, argued that Strzok's notes "question the entire premise of the FBI's investigation" and undercuts Mueller's probe.

“These documents, which I have long sought, tell a damning story for anyone who’s interested in trying to find the truth behind the corrupt nature of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016 and beyond," Graham added.

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But Strzok's comments came before the investigation into Trump adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneHow would a Biden Justice Department be different? Matt Gaetz, Roger Stone back far-right activist Laura Loomer in congressional bid Barr: The left 'believes in tearing down the system' MORE, who he wrote in one note had not been investigated. A 2016 Trump Tower meeting that involved Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE Jr., son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Kanye West meets with Jared Kushner amid White House bid: report Federal government pauses Kodak loan pending probes MORE, campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrump says he would consider pardons for those implicated in Mueller investigation Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - Mask mandates, restrictions issued as COVID-19 spreads MORE and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya also wasn't first reported by The New York Times until mid-2017, months after Strzok made his notes.

A 22-month investigation led by Mueller did not find sufficient evidence that members of the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with Moscow to tip the election in their favor.

The other document released by Graham is a memo detailing a three-day interview with a key source for Steele. The documents, which still include several areas of redaction, were declassified by Attorney General William BarrBill BarrHow would a Biden Justice Department be different? Joe Biden played it safe Kamala Harris: The right choice at the right time MORE

It's the latest instance of Trump administration officials declassifying documents tied to the Russia probe for Senate Republican chairmen, who have vowed to "investigate the investigators."

Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRon Johnson signals some GOP senators concerned about his Obama-era probes Democrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Hillicon Valley: Facebook removed over 22 million posts for hate speech in second quarter | Republicans introduce bill to defend universities against hackers targeting COVID-19 research | Facebook's Sandberg backs Harris as VP pick MORE (R-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high MORE (R-Iowa) released a two-page annex last month from the intelligence community's assessment on Russian interference after Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffePat Fallon wins GOP nomination in race to succeed DNI Ratcliffe Hillicon Valley: Google extending remote work policy through July 2021 | Intel community returns final Russia report to Senate committee after declassification | Study finds election officials vulnerable to cyberattacks Intel community returns final Russia report volume to Senate after declassification review MORE declassified it at their request.

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Republicans have homed in for years on the Steele dossier, viewing it as a politically motivated hit job. It was funded, in part, by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Trump campaign spox rips GOP congressman over rejection of QAnon conspiracy Biden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris MORE's 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee and made a series of serious allegations about Trump's relationship with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia says coronavirus vaccine will be ready for doctors in two weeks Democrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Fauci: 'I seriously doubt' Russia's coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective MORE that have either been disproven or remain unsubstantiated.

The report from Graham isn't the first to note discrepancies between Steele and his source. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz previously highlighted it in a report where he noted 17 inaccuracies and omissions in the surveillance warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

"The FBI discovered discrepancies between Steele's reporting and statements sub-sources made to the FBI, which raised doubts about the reliability of some of Steele's reports," Horowitz wrote.

But former Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinFBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Sally Yates to testify as part of GOP probe into Russia investigation Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe MORE told members of the Judiciary Committee earlier this year that while information from Steele was in the dossier it was, to his understanding, only verified information.

"The Steele dossier was not in the FISA, was not submitted to the court," he added.