Text messages released to Congress show that dossier compiler Christopher Steele was “concerned” about Sen. Chuck Grassley’s letter regarding the document, The Daily Caller News Foundation reports.
“Would it be possible to speak later today please? We’re very concerned by the Grassley letter and it’s possible implications for us, our operations and our sources. We need some reassurances,” Steele wrote in a March 7, 2017 text message to Bruce Ohr, who was the deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice at the time.
It’s not clear how Ohr replied to Steele’s concerns. At the time, Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele. Ohr was demoted in December 2017 for his contact with Steele and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson. Steele is a former British spy.
The DOJ recently provided these texts and other documents to several congressional committees, looking into the government’s involvement in the dossier.
The “Grassley letter” is likely referencing the March 6, 2017, letter that Grassley sent to the DOJ, requesting more information about the dossier and intelligence community’s relationship with Steele.
The dossier was unverified opposition research that the DOJ used for their FISA warrant on Donald Trump associate Carter Page. The claims in the dossier of Russian dirt on Trump have not been corroborated.
Grassley expressed concern that the Obama administration was using FBI and CIA as political pawns, the letter says.
The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for President in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends. It is additionally troubling that the FBI reportedly agreed to such an arrangement given that, in January of 2017, then-Director Clapper issued a statement stating that “the IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.”
Grassley then went on to ask 12 questions about the FBI’s relationship to Steele and the dossier, as well as for communication between the government and Fusion GPS.
The DOJ stonewalled Congress before releasing any information. Grassley wrote another letter to the DOJ on May 2, 2017, demanding documents he had asked for two months earlier. Various Republicans have complained about the lack of cooperation from intelligence agencies.
The FBI cut ties with Steele in November 2016, after it learned he leaked word of the investigation to the press. We now know Steele leaked to Yahoo News and Mother Jones that he was working with the intelligence community to find dirt on Trump. Recent reporting in The Hill shows that Ohr maintained contact with Steele long after the FBI cut ties.