Sen. Lindsey Graham said FBI Director Christopher Wray is “committed” to cooperating with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the Trump-Russia investigators.
The South Carolina Republican, who is scrutinizing the investigation into Russian election interference and allegations of Trump-Russia collusion as well as the bureau’s use of British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s flawed anti-Trump dossier, has pushed Wray to assist the congressional inquiry and said on Thursday he is encouraged after having a chat with the director.
“I had a very good discussion this morning with FBI Director Wray about providing witnesses and documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee related to our oversight of Crossfire Hurricane, related FISA abuses and the subsequent Mueller investigation,” Graham said in a statement. “I believe the Director is committed to being helpful — in an appropriate manner — by balancing the needs of privacy for Bureau employees with public transparency for the benefit of the American people. Director Wray expressed to me his commitment to holding accountable those who may have committed violations of law or policy, providing appropriate due process sooner rather than later.”
This came before Attorney General William Barr said Thursday evening that a “development” from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation of the Trump-Russia investigators is expected on Friday.
“Like the Committee, Director Wray will be deferential to any ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by U.S. Attorney Durham,” Graham said in his statement.
President Trump, who has repeatedly critiqued Wray this year as Republicans vented about what they view to be his reluctance to help reveal secrets about a Russia investigation they feel was designed to muddy up Trump, did so again Thursday morning on Fox Business.
“We have an election coming up. I wish he was more forthcoming. He certainly hasn’t been,” Trump said. “There are documents that they want to get and that we have said we want to get. We’re going to find out if he’s going to give those documents, but certainly, he’s been very, very protective.” Trump claimed Wray was “chosen by a certain person, and I said, ‘Go ahead, put whoever you want.’ I’m so honest that I said you could put anybody you want. Let’s see how Wray turns out.” Trump appointed Wray to replace fired FBI Director James Comey in 2017.
Barr has defended Wray from Republican criticism, saying in May that the FBI director “has always supported and been very helpful in various investigations we’ve been running.” Barr told Buck Sexton’s podcast on Thursday that he had spoken with Wray that morning about “plans to put additional safeguards in place” to protect against any abuses at the DOJ and FBI.
Graham sent Wray a two-page letter earlier this week seeking details about a 2018 briefing in which he believes the bureau gave misleading information to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the reliability of Steele’s dossier, specifically related to Steele’s primary subsource, recently revealed to be Russian-trained, D.C.-based lawyer Igor Danchenko. Graham told Wray he wanted answers by Friday, including the name and position of the bureau’s briefer, the FBI officials who attended the briefing, and the bureau employees involved in putting together the now-declassified draft taking points.
Graham also asked Wray to hand over all of the documents and communications used by the FBI to brief Congress about the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, the Steele dossier, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications targeting onetime Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
Graham said a newly declassified FBI document used to brief the Senate in 2018 appears to make “clearly inaccurate” claims about Danchenko based on information uncovered through the senator’s inquiry and by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s Page FISA investigation.
“The FBI knew each of these statements was inaccurate at the time they were included in the outline for the briefing,” Graham said in his letter to Wray.
FBI notes of an interview conducted with Danchenko in January 2017 show he told the bureau that he didn’t know where some of the claims attributed to him came from and that his Russian sources never mentioned some of the allegations in Steele’s dossier. Danchenko was multiple steps separated from some claims he passed to Steele.
Danchenko told bureau agents he “did not know the origins” of some claims and “did not recall” other information in the dossier. Steele’s primary subsource told the FBI that Steele mischaracterized at least one of his own Russian source contacts too. Danchenko noted that much of what he gave to Steele was “word of mouth and hearsay,” some stemmed from a “conversation that [he] had with friends over beers,” and the most salacious Trump allegations may have been made in “jest.”
Horowitz said FBI interviews with Steele’s primary subsource “raised significant questions about the reliability of the Steele election reporting” and cast doubt on some of its biggest claims. The DOJ watchdog noted the primary subsource “made statements during his/her January 2017 FBI interview that were inconsistent with multiple sections of the Steele reports, including some that were relied upon in the FISA applications” and that Danchenko’s account “was not consistent with and, in fact, contradicted the allegations of a ‘well-developed conspiracy’” in Steele’s dossier.
Horowitz’s lengthy December report criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the FISA warrants against Page and for the bureau’s reliance on Steele’s Democratic-funded and unverified dossier. Declassified footnotes now show the FBI was aware that Steele’s dossier might have been compromised by Russian disinformation.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson recently subpoenaed Wray for documents.