Republicans set sights on FBI chief as Russia probe investigations ramp up

Republicans set sights on FBI chief as Russia probe investigations ramp up
© Bonnie Cash

Two high-profile Senate Republican chairmen are homing in on FBI Director Christopher Wray as they ramp up their probes into the investigation of Russian election interference and the Trump campaign.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC Senate confirms Garland's successor to appeals court Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema MORE (R-S.C.) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate passes bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday Jon Stewart: Coronavirus 'more than likely caused by science' Hillicon Valley: House targets tech giants with antitrust bills | Oversight chair presses JBS over payment to hackers | Trump spokesman to join tech company | YouTube suspends GOP senator MORE (R-Wis.) on Tuesday singled out Wray, who has increasingly been a target for GOP lawmakers.

Graham sent a letter to Wray this week about a 2018 briefing involving a controversial research dossier from 2016 compiled on then-candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE that the FBI provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Graham is not a member of.


Over the weekend, Graham released a document declassified by Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump, allies pressured DOJ to back election claims, documents show House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists Judge temporarily blocks release of Trump obstruction memo MORE that noted the 2018 briefing took place as part of an agreement between Wray, then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrPast criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Trump endorsement shakes up GOP Senate primary in NC House Democrats to Schumer: Vote again on Jan. 6 probe MORE (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress MORE (D-Va.).

"What is particularly troubling about this briefing is that the outline of the briefing indicates that at least three material misrepresentations regarding the Primary Sub-source and what he told the FBI about the Steele dossier in 2017 were made to the committee," Graham wrote in his letter to Wray.

Graham is claiming that the FBI misled the Senate Intelligence Committee about the sub-sources used to compile the research.

The FBI confirmed that it received Graham's letter, adding that it "will continue to work in coordination with the Department of Justice to address the Committee’s requests."

But sources told The Washington Post on Monday that the committee does not believe it was lied to, though their forthcoming fifth installment of their investigation into Russia's election interference is expected to criticize the so-called Steele dossier.

As part of his letter, which was sent on Monday but released Tuesday, Graham is asking Wray to provide the names of officials who drafted the outline of the Intelligence Committee briefing and to turn over documents used to prepare the outline.


Graham also wants to know who attended the Intelligence Committee briefing and receive a copy of any documents that were used to brief any congressional committees or lawmakers about the dossier, the surveillance warrant applications tied to former Trump campaign aide Carter Page or Crossfire Hurricane, the name of the FBI investigation into Russia's election meddling and the Trump campaign.

Wray was confirmed by the Senate to lead the FBI in a 92-5 vote in August 2017. That was roughly a year after the FBI started its counterintelligence investigation and months after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE had been appointed to continue the probe after Trump fired then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom Trump DOJ seized phone records of New York Times reporters MORE.

Graham's letter comes as Johnson subpoenaed the FBI for documents as part of his separate investigation.

Johnson said he issued the subpoena — after receiving authorization at a committee meeting in June — because he "finally ran out of patience."

"This is ridiculous," Johnson said during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday. "I'm done fooling around."

An FBI spokesperson told The Hill on Monday that the bureau had been providing documents to the committee on a "rolling basis" and has increased resources in order to do so.

The subpoena from Johnson is the first he's issued out of his investigation into the FBI's Russia probe, which is also expected to touch on the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and leaks from the early days of the Trump administration.

Johnson was asked on Tuesday about the FBI's briefing to the Intelligence Committee, which he is also not a member of, and indicated he thought Wray should have to answer questions about it.

"It was on his watch. He allowed this to happen. He's going to have some real explaining to do," Johnson said during the interview with Fox News.