SPONSORED:

Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe

Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Trump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair 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) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's probe, which subsumed it.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Strzok's comments came before the investigation into Trump adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneWould Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump's pardons harshly criticized by legal experts Presidential pardons need to go MORE, who he wrote in one note had not been investigated. A 2016 Trump Tower meeting that involved Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE Jr., son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerJilani: China 'sending clear message' to Biden officials with sanctions that opposition could lead to 'future pay cut' Would Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon MORE, campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortWould Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump's pardons harshly criticized by legal experts Presidential pardons need to go 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 BarrPoll finds 1 in 3 believe false claims voter fraud led to Biden win Trump pressed DOJ to go to Supreme Court in bid to overturn election: report Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated 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 JohnsonBiden's Commerce secretary pick says Section 230 'needs some reform' Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback GOP senators call for commission to investigate Capitol attack MORE (R-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate sworn in as jurors for Trump impeachment trial GOP digs in on preserving Trump tax cuts On The Money: Treasury announces efforts to help people get stimulus payments | Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury | Judge sets ground rules for release of Trump taxes 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 RatcliffeSenate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Biden intelligence chief pledges to keep politics out of job House panels open review of Capitol riot MORE declassified it at their request.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ClintonEverytown urges Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign over newly uncovered remarks Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed support on Facebook for violence against Democrats McConnell last spoke to Trump on Dec. 15 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 PutinUS, Russia making 'remarkable' progress on extension of nuclear arms control treaty, diplomat says How socialism saved America US joins G-7 in condemning Russia over 'politically motivated' arrest of Putin critic 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 RosensteinRosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members 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.