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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 GrahamProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts McConnell backs Garland for attorney general Senate GOP campaign chief talks strategy with Trump MORE (R-S.C.) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTop cops deflect blame over Capitol attack NRSC chair Scott calls for party unity: 'The Republican Civil War is now cancelled' GOP senator raises uncorroborated claims about 'provocateurs,' 'fake Trump supporters' at Capitol riot hearing 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 TrumpRomney: 'Pretty sure' Trump would win 2024 GOP nomination if he ran for president Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Trump says 'no doubt' Tiger Woods will be back after accident MORE that the FBI provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Graham is not a member of.

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Over the weekend, Graham released a document declassified by Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJustice Department renews investigation into George Floyd's death: report Putting antifa and Black Lives Matter on notice Families of Pensacola naval station shooting victims sue Saudi Arabia MORE that noted the 2018 briefing took place as part of an agreement between Wray, then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Health Care: COVID-19 vaccine makers pledge massive supply increase | Biden health nominee faces first Senate test | White House defends reopening of facility for migrant kids Romney presses Becerra on vote against ban on late-term abortions Biden health nominee faces first Senate test MORE (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerMicrosoft, FireEye push for breach reporting rules after SolarWinds hack Hearings examine consequences of massive SolarWinds breach Senate Intelligence panel to hold hearing on SolarWinds breach next week 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.

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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) 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 had been appointed to continue the probe after Trump fired then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyJohn Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Trump DOJ officials sought to block search of Giuliani records: report Tina Fey, Amy Poehler to host Golden Globes from separate coasts amid pandemic 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.