Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe

Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Key Democrat opposes GOP Section 230 subpoena for Facebook, Twitter, Google 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 StoneThe agony of justice Our Constitution is under attack by Attorney General William Barr Justice IG investigating Stone sentencing: report MORE, who he wrote in one note had not been investigated. A 2016 Trump Tower meeting that involved Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE Jr., son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerAbraham Accords: New hope for peace in Middle East Tenants in Kushner building file lawsuit alleging dangerous living conditions Trump hosts Israel, UAE, Bahrain for historic signing MORE, campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortOur Constitution is under attack by Attorney General William Barr Bannon trial date set in alleged border wall scam Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention 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 BarrHillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs YouTube to battle mail-in voting misinformation with info panel on videos 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 JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose CHC leaders urge Senate to oppose Chad Wolf nomination  MORE (R-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose Top GOP senators say Hunter Biden's work 'cast a shadow' over Obama Ukraine policy 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 RatcliffeHillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs Democrats call for declassifying election threats after briefing by Trump officials 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 ClintonFox News poll: Biden ahead of Trump in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio Trump, Biden court Black business owners in final election sprint The power of incumbency: How Trump is using the Oval Office to win reelection 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 PutinPutin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize Navalny released from hospital after suspected poisoning Ex-Trump national security adviser says US leaders 'making it easy for Putin' to meddle 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 RosensteinDOJ kept investigators from completing probe of Trump ties to Russia: report Five takeaways from final Senate Intel Russia report FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book 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.