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Senator Chuck Grassley notes ‘material inconsistencies’ in Comey’s statements on Trump dossier

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley pressed the FBI director ahead of this week’s oversight hearing for details of the FBI’s involvement with Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy who authored the unsubstantiated anti-Trump dossier on behalf of opposition research firm Fusion GPS.

In the limited details provided to the committee on the matter, the FBI’s description of its relationship with Steele appears to be materially inconsistent with Justice Department documents later revealed to the committee.

Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein first raised questions in mid-February about the resignation of National Security Advisory Michael Flynn and the leaks of classified information involving him.  Grassley then sought details from the FBI on reports that it offered to pay Steele in connection with the unsubstantiated dossier.

As a result of the FBI’s failure to respond to the Flynn letter, Grassley publicly pledged to suspend action on the nomination for the Deputy Attorney General position pending a response to his questions. FBI Director James Comey briefed Grassley and Feinstein the following day.

While the briefing substantially addressed questions in the Flynn inquiry, it covered only a few the questions in the Steele inquiry.  The FBI attempted to claim after the briefing that it had adequately responded to the Steele questions, yet many remain unanswered.

Importantly, portions of Comey’s description of the FBI’s relationship with Steele appear to be in conflict with Justice Department documents reviewed by the committee following the briefing.

“Whether those inconsistencies were honest mistakes or an attempt to downplay the actual extent of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele, it is essential that the FBI fully answer all of the questions from the March 6 letter and provide all the requested documents in order to resolve these and related issues,” Grassley said today in a letter to Comey.

Grassley is also asking the FBI to explain whether it was aware that Fusion GPS was allegedly working as an unregistered agent for Russian interests at the same time it was working on the unsubstantiated dossier, and whether such information was included in documents describing or relying on materials in the dossier.

Comey is scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee at an FBI oversight hearing on May 3.

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