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 GrahamGraham neck and neck with challenger in South Carolina Senate race: poll Harris slams Trump's Supreme Court pick as an attempt to 'destroy the Affordable Care Act' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election MORE (R-S.C.) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose 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 John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts 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 BarrFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Why a backdoor to encrypted data is detrimental to cybersecurity and data integrity FBI official who worked with Mueller raised doubts about Russia investigation MORE that noted the 2018 briefing took place as part of an agreement between Wray, then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon 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 Rep. Mark Walker says he's been contacted about Liberty University vacancy MORE (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFBI director casts doubt on concerns over mail-in voting fraud Democrats call for declassifying election threats after briefing by Trump officials It's time to upgrade benefits 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) 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 had been appointed to continue the probe after Trump fired then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeySteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Judge will not dismiss McCabe's case against DOJ Democrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate 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.