House Republicans Secretly Sent Staffers To Hunt British Spy Who Released Damning Dossier On Trump And Russia
Citing three different sources, Politico reported on Friday that two Republican House Intelligence Committee staffers secretly traveled to London earlier this summer to track down the former British intelligence operative who compiled a controversial dossier on President Donald Trump and Russia.
However, House Intelligence Committee Republicans did not tell Democrats on the House panel, the Senate Intelligence Committee nor special counsel Robert Mueller’s office that the investigators were pursuing Steele.
The previously unreported trip underscores the importance of the 35-page dossier Christopher Steele wrote last year to Congressional probes into possible collusion between Moscow and the 2016 Trump campaign.
According to the report, the House staffers showed up unannounced at two addresses associated with Steele, the former agent for Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service. One of those locations was Steele’s lawyer’s office, where the former spy was meeting with his counsel when the staffers showed up.
The revelation has inflamed the simmering tensions between House and Senate investigators as they pursue parallel probes into the Trump-Russia connection.
Senate officials expressed frustration that any details about congressional investigations were coming out in the press.
“Every time something comes out…we take three steps back,” the official said.
The London trip has also angered Democrats in both chambers of Congress, who were not consulted by their colleagues before the investigators knocked on Steele’s door. Democrats fear House investigators are more interested in discrediting the dossier than trying to substantiate its allegations.
U.S. intelligence officials acquired the dossier last year and briefed President Obama, then-president-elect Trump and congressional leaders about its contents. BuzzFeed News, which had obtained the document, published it soon after.
Tensions between the two intelligence panels have been palpable since each respective inquiry got off the ground early this year.
Though both panels are probing the same issues, examining the same documents and interviewing the same witnesses, there has been little effort to coordinate the two investigations.
“We’re not asking the House to play any role in our investigation. We don’t plan to play any role in their investigation,” said the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Richard Burr (R-NC.), told reporters in late March.
The House Intelligence Committee investigation fell into turmoil in April after the committee’s chairman, Devin Nunes, was forced to recuse himself from the investigation after his close links to the Trump White House drew conflict of interest questions.