Lindsey Graham

September 14, 2019 – Senator Graham says U.S. officials received as many as six warnings about Christopher Steele’s reliability as a source

The London offices of Orbis Business Intelligence. (Credit: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Friday that U.S. officials received as many as six warnings that dossier author Christopher Steele was an unreliable source of information regarding President Donald Trump.

Graham discussed the assessment of Steele during a radio interview with host Sean Hannity, but he stopped short of describing all of the information regarding the former British spy because much of it is classified.

“There’s four events that I’m aware of, five actually, where the system was informed that Christopher Steele was an unreliable informant when it came to Trump,” Graham told Hannity.

“Some of them I can’t tell you yet until we get this stuff declassified. But I think it’s going to be five; it may be six,” the South Carolina Republican added later.” (Daily Caller, 9/14/2019)

August 14, 2019 – A Grassley/Graham/Johnson memo suggests the FBI failed to seek access to certain highly classified information potentially relevant to the Clinton email investigation

From left to right, Senators Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson (Credit: public domain)

(…) “Thanks to the relentless investigative work of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), we are learning that the Hillary Clinton email case may not really be settled.

A staff memo updating the two senators’ long-running probe discloses that the FBI — the version run in 2016 by the now-disgraced and fired James ComeyAndrew McCabe and Peter Strzok — failed to pursue access to “highly classified” evidence that could have resolved important questions.

The failure to look at the evidence back in 2016 occurred even though the agents believed access to the sensitive evidence was “necessary” to complete the investigation into Clinton’s improper transmission of classified emails — some top-secret — on her unsecure private email server, the memos show.

To make matters worse, the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has known about that decision since at least 2018, thanks to the work of the DOJ’s internal watchdog, Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz, who provided DOJ leaders and Congress with a classified appendix explaining what happened.

But Johnson and Grassley have been unable to get answers for a year, even from Attorney General William Barr, about whether the FBI intends to look at the critical evidence it skipped back in 2016.

The Senate staff memo succinctly lays out just how egregious the FBI’s decision was in 2016.

The inspector general’s “appendix raised a number of serious questions because, as explained on page 154 of the unclassified DOJ IG report, the FBI decided not to seek access to certain highly classified information potentially relevant to the investigation despite members of the FBI case team referring to the review as a ‘necessary’ part of the investigation,” the Senate staff wrote.

“As a result of the findings in that appendix, Senator Grassley wrote a classified letter to DOJ on October 17, 2018, which remains unanswered. On January 15, 2019, at Mr. Barr’s nomination hearing, Senator Grassley asked Mr. Barr if he would answer the letter, if confirmed, to which he attested, ‘Yes, Senator.’ On April 16, 2019, Senators Grassley, Johnson, and Graham sent a letter to Attorney General Barr reiterating the need for a written response to that letter.”

The DOJ’s silence on the road that the FBI willfully chose not to take is all the more deafening given what we already know about the Clinton email case.” (Read more: The Hill, 8/22/2019)

April 16, 2019 – Senators Grassley, Graham and Johnson ask AG Barr for a classified appendix to Horowitz’s previous report re various actions by the FBI and DOJ during the Clinton email investigation

From left to right, Senators Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson (Credit: public domain)

“Three Senate committee chairmen are calling on the Justice Department to provide previously-sought information related to the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email server investigation. DOJ initially refused to furnish the information, citing the ongoing special counsel investigation. Following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson are renewing the request.

“Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has concluded, we are unaware of any legitimate basis upon which the Department can refuse to answer the Judiciary Committee’s inquiries,” the senators wrote in an unclassified cover letter to Attorney General William Barr.

The chairmen’s request stems from a classified annex to a DOJ Inspector General report on the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business and mishandling of classified information. The unclassified portion of the report describes an FBI effort to review highly-classified material that was potentially relevant to its ongoing server investigation codenamed Midyear Exam. In May of 2016, around the same time then-FBI Director James Comey was drafting a statement exonerating Clinton, the FBI’s Midyear team wrote a memo seeking DOJ permission to review highly-classified information “necessary to complete the investigation,” according to the unclassified IG report. However, the memo was never sent to DOJ and the Midyear investigation was closed shortly thereafter. The classified annex includes additional detail about the information in question, its potential relevance to the Midyear investigation and the FBI’s justification for failing to review it.

In July of 2018, the Judiciary Committee requested a DOJ briefing to discuss questions raised by the classified annex, and followed up with a classified letter in October. However DOJ initially declined to provide the information, citing the ongoing special counsel investigation into matters related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now that the special counsel’s investigation has concluded, the chairmen are renewing their request for details on the FBI’s decision not to seek potentially-relevant information during the Midyear investigation.

Today the chairmen resubmitted the October 2018 classified letter to Attorney General Barr regarding the IG classified annex.  An unclassified cover letter accompanying the request follows:

April 16, 2019
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable William Barr
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Barr:
On October 17, 2018, the Judiciary Committee sent a classified letter to the Justice Department regarding the Inspector General’s classified appendix to its report titled, “A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election.”  As noted on page 154 of Chapter 5 of the Inspector General’s unclassified report, the classified appendix raises significant issues associated with the FBI’s failure to review certain highly classified information in support of its Midyear investigation.[1]  In particular, the Inspector General noted that it learned that the FBI acquired classified material that “may have included information potentially relevant to the Midyear investigation.”  The FBI even drafted a memorandum in May of 2016 stating that access to the information was “necessary to complete the investigation.”  However, that memorandum was never completed.  During the Inspector General’s investigation, when FBI witnesses were interviewed by the Inspector General, they took the position that the information would not materially impact the conclusion.  That explanation is inconsistent with the memorandum’s self-identified purpose and demands clarification.
Furthermore, on July 31, 2018, the Judiciary Committee requested a briefing on the steps the Department has taken, or plans to take, in light of the report’s findings.  In a subsequent phone call with Department personnel on September 17, 2018, the Department declined to brief the Judiciary Committee, asserting without any clear basis, that it would interfere with Special Counsel Mueller’s equities.  Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has concluded, we are unaware of any legitimate basis upon which the Department can refuse to answer the Judiciary Committee’s inquiries.
Accordingly, we are reissuing the attached classified letter regarding the important questions raised by the appendix and reiterating our request for a classified briefing on the subject.  Please respond to these questions no later than April 26, 2019.  Should you have questions, please have your staff contact Zachary Somers of Chairman Graham’s staff at 202-224-5225, Joshua Flynn-Brown of Chairman Grassley’s staff at 202-224-4515, or Joseph Folio of Chairman Johnson’s staff at 202-224-4751.[2]
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
Lindsey O. Graham
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
Charles E. Grassley
Chairman
Committee on Finance
Ron Johnson
Chairman
Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs
cc:
   The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
   The Honorable Gary C. Peters
   The Honorable Ron Wyden
-30-

[1] Unclassified Inspector General Report, p. 154.  “In addition, as we describe in the classified appendix to this report, the OIG learned near the end of our review that the FBI had considered obtaining permission from the Department to review certain classified materials that may have included information potentially relevant to the Midyear investigation.  Although the Midyear team drafted a memorandum to the Deputy Attorney General in late May 2016 stating that review of the highly classified materials was necessary to complete the investigation and requesting permission to access them, the FBI never sent this request to the Department.  FBI witnesses told us that they did not seek access to these classified materials for various reasons, including that they believed this information would not materially impact the conclusion.  The classified appendix describes in more detail the highly classified information, its potential relevance to the Midyear investigation, the FBI’s reasons for not seeking access to it, and our analysis.”
[2] Chairman Johnson joins these requests as a continuation of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s oversight of these issues.  See S. Rule XXV(k); S. Res. 445, 108th Cong. (2004); S. Res. 70, 116th Cong. § 12(e)(1)(A) ( 2019).

(Grassley/Senate, 4/16/2019)

March 7, 2019 – Lindsey Graham reboots FISA abuse investigation with expansive DOJ document request

Senate Judiciary Cmte. Chairman Lindsey Graham leaves the Senate after voting to confirm William Barr to be attorney general, on Feb. 14, 2019. (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press)

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is resuming an investigation of potential surveillance abuse by the FBI with an expansive request for records related to the bureau’s vetting of the Steele dossier.

In a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General William Barr, Graham asked for all FBI and Justice Department documents related to investigators’ attempts to verify allegations made in the dossier, which was authored by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Democrats.

The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s report to obtain four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Republicans investigated whether the FBI misled the FISA court by relying on the dossier even though its allegations about Page were unverified. They also asserted the FBI failed to tell surveillance court judges that Steele was working on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign on an investigation of Donald Trump.

Graham also indicated in the letter that he is investigating the FBI’s decision to open up investigations of Trump campaign associates in 2016.

He said the Judiciary Committee is concerned vetting proper vetting procedures and the full presentation of facts to the FISA Court “may not have occurred with regard to the applications for FISA warrants for (and the opening of the underlying investigation on) Carter Page and other individuals associated with the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 3/07/2019)

January 21, 2019 – Lindsey Graham to continue oversight of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications

Lindsey Graham (Credit: Fox News Sunday)

“New tensions are flaring on the Senate Judiciary Committee over plans by newly minted Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to dig into Obama-era scandals.

Graham, a close ally of President Trump’s, has outlined several areas he wants to probe now that he has the Judiciary Committee gavel.

They include the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

(…) Graham told reporters earlier this month that he would do a “deep dive into the FISA issue” as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And he told Fox News last month that he believed the FBI “phoned in” the Clinton probe and were “in the tank” for the Democratic presidential nominee.

“There’s a certain unevenness here about how you investigate campaigns,” Graham said, adding that he believed there was “100 percent” a double standard between how the bureau handled the investigation into Clinton compared to investigating the Trump campaign.

Graham also said late last year that he would “totally” investigate the FBI’s handling of its investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Clinton’s email. He added separately last month that he would “get to the bottom of” the FISA warrant applications against Page and that he wanted to have “an in-depth discussion” with former FBI Director James Comey.

Asked about his investigation plans and the criticism from Democrats, a spokeswoman for Graham pointed to a pair of tweets from the GOP senator on Friday where he doubled down.

Graham described as “stunning” a Fox News report that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr discussed his views on a controversial research opposition dossier on Trump with individuals now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“These purported revelations will NOT get a pass in Senate Judiciary Committee,” Graham added.” (Read more: The Hill, 1/21/2019)

April 29, 2018 – Graham calls for special probe into DOJ corruption; says Clinton email probe ‘a joke’

Lindsey Graham appears with Maria Bartiromo on April 29, 2018. (Credit: Fox News)

“Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday called for an investigation into corruption within the Department of Justice, while slamming former FBI Director James Comey and the Clinton email investigation.

“We should have a special counsel looking at DOJ corruption, looking at how the [Steele] dossier was given to the court,” Graham, R-S.C., told Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Comey had a bias against President Trump when the former FBI director said he turned over an unclassified memo to a friend with the intent of getting it to The New York Times.

Comey, while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee last summer, said he leaked accounts of the conversations he had with Trump, hoping it would lead to the appointment of a special counsel.

“He made a decision … to try to press the system to appoint a special counsel. If that doesn’t show a motivation and a bias against President Trump, I don’t know what would,” Graham said.” (Video: Fox News, 4/29/2018)

June 22, 2017 – Grassley, Feinstein, Graham and Whitehouse write to former AG Lynch with questions about the Russian intel that alleges she made private assurances to Clinton aide, Amanda Renteria

Bill meets Loretta on the Phoenix airport tarmac, June 27, 2016.(Credit: ABC News)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham, and Ranking Member Sheldon Whitehouse sought information about alleged political interference by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch during the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The bipartisan inquiry comes as the Judiciary Committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the removal of James Comey as FBI Director.

In April 2017The New York Times reported that the FBI came into possession of a batch of hacked documents, one of which was said to be authored by a “Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far.” Chairman Grassley then requested a copy of the document from the Justice Department, which has failed to respond. A month laterThe Washington Post reported similar facts and provided further details about individuals involved in these communications. The Post reported that the email in question, sent by then-chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Leonard Benardo of the Open Society Foundations, indicated that Lynch had privately assured Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that the FBI’s investigation wouldn’t “go too far.”

Comey was reportedly concerned that the communication would raise doubts about the investigation’s independence and began discussing plans to announce the end of the Clinton email investigation rather than simply referring it to the Department for a prosecutorial decision. Comey’s extraordinary action to announce the end of the investigation was a break from Justice Department protocol and was later cited as justification for his removal from the FBI.

In their letters to Benardo, Open Society Foundations’ General Counsel Gail Scovell, Renteria, and former Attorney General Lynch, the Senators seek details about the reported communication, copies of any related documents and whether the FBI contacted them to investigate the alleged communication.

The reports come amidst numerous allegations of political inference in controversial and high-profile investigations spanning the current and previous administrations. The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the FBI and Justice Department and is obliged to oversee any potential misconduct or inappropriate political influence at these agencies.

The full text of the letters can be found at the following links:

Letter to Mr. Leonard Benardo
Letter to Ms. Gail Scovell
Letter to Ms. Renteria
Letter to former Attorney General Loretta Lynch

(Senate Judiciary Press, 6/23/2017)

January, 2017 to Present: Former top staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein may be directing the post-election efforts of Fusion GPS

Daniel J. Jones (Credit: The Guardian)

“New evidence suggests that a former top staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) may be directing the post-election efforts of Fusion GPS, a Democrat-linked political opposition research firm, to vindicate a series of memos alleging illegal collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Congressional documents and recently leaked texts between Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and a registered foreign agent for a Russian aluminum oligarch indicate that Daniel J. Jones is intimately involved with ongoing efforts to retroactively validate a series of salacious and unverified memos produced by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, and Fusion GPS. The dossier, which declassified documents show was used as a basis for securing secret wiretaps on Trump campaign affiliates, was reportedly jointly funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”

(…) “The former Feinstein staffer’s participation in ongoing efforts to retroactively validate the dossier was first publicly hinted at in January in several inquiry letters from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to various Democratic party leaders who were likely responsible for funding Fusion GPS’s 2016 dossier work, including John Podesta, Donna Brazile, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“Understanding the extent of the DNC’s knowledge of, and interactions with, Mr. Steele and others involved in Fusion GPS’s work is essential to this inquiry,” the two senators wrote.

“In light of this, by February 8, 2018, please answer the following questions and provide the following requested documents.” The twelfth item the lawmakers requested, which appears to be the first time Jones’s name was publicly mentioned in connection with the dossier, was all communications between the letters’ recipients and a host of characters involved with the dossier and its financing, creation, and dissemination:

“For the period from March 2016 through January 2017, please provide all communications to, from, copying, or relating to: Fusion GPS; Bean LLC; Glenn Simpson; Mary Jacoby; Peter Fritsch; Tom Catan; Jason Felch; Neil King; David Michaels; Taylor Sears; Patrick Corcoran; Laura Sego; Jay Bagwell; Erica Castro; Nellie Ohr; Rinat Akhmetshin; Ed Lieberman; Edward Baumgartner; Orbis Business Intelligence Limited; Orbis Business International Limited.; Walsingham Training Limited; Walsingham Partners Limited; Christopher Steele; Christopher Burrows; Sir Andrew Wood, Paul Hauser;4 Oleg Deripaska; Cody Shearer; Sidney Blumenthal; Jon Winer; Kathleen Kavalec; Victoria Nuland; Daniel Jones; Bruce Ohr; Peter Strzok; Andrew McCabe; James Baker; Sally Yates; Loretta Lynch; John Brennan.”

The grouping of the names is a story in itself: the first 15 names (through Nellie Ohr) are those of Fusion GPS’s principals and key staff in 2016; the next 12 (through Deripaska) are connected to Steele and a Russian oligarch sanctioned by the United States, the next two (Shearer and Blumenthal) are longtime Clinton hangers-on who reportedly wrote and disseminated their own dossier of unverified allegations; the next three are key Obama-era State Department officials who likely spread allegations about the Trump campaign throughout the government; then Jones; the next six are top Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or Department of Justice (DOJ) officials who used the dossier to secure secret wiretaps on Trump affiliates; and the final name belongs to Obama’s CIA director.” (Read more: The Federalist, 2/20/2018)

Whoever hacked DNC and other Democrat-related emails in the last year may have also targeted Republicans.

The Daily Beast reports that cybersecurity experts believe the hacker or hackers who stole emails from the DNC (Democratic National Committee) are behind a website known as DCLeaks. The site went public in June 2016 to little media attention. But the site contains emails from hundreds of Republican and Democratic US politicans, including staffers to Republican Senators John McCain and Linsey Graham, plus staffers to former Republican Repesentative Michelle Bachmann.  An unnamed “an individual close to the investigation of the Democratic Party hacks” says the evidence is growing that both parties have been targeted. “Everyone is sweating this right now. This isn’t just limited to Democrats.”

160812McCainGrahamKevinLamarqueReuters

Senators John McCain (left) and Linsey Graham (right) (Credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

The cybersecurity company ThreatConnect has been investigating the recent hacks of US political targets, and they call DCLeaks a “Russian-backed influence outlet.” In particular, they have linked it to Fancy Bear (a.k.a. APT 28), a hacking group also accused of hacking the DNC, an believed by many to be working for the Russian government. “DCLeaks’ registration and hosting information aligns with other Fancy Bear activities and known tactics, techniques, and procedures.” They also claim that the hacker or hacking group known as Guccifer 2.0, who claims to be behind the hacking of the DNC emails that WikiLeaks publicly posted in July 2016, is linked to DCLeaks.
The Daily Beast reports that “researchers, at ThreatConnect and elsewhere, also now believe that Guccifer 2.0 was WikiLeaks’ source and that the group is acting as a front for the Russian government.” (The Daily Beast, 8/12/2016)