Last month, right before Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed the report on the Russia investigation, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham contacted Attorney General Bill Barr to inform him that Mueller’s findings included “selective” use of emails as well as potential “improper political influence, misconduct, and mismanagement” in the original FBI investigation into Russia.
In a letter dated March 8th, Graham and Grassley pointed out a letter to Barr that was sent to Mueller at the end of 2017. The letter alleged that Mueller’s investigators had hand-picked details from emails that they would include in court documents. Graham and Grassley then urged Barr to carefully review all of the material. They also explained that a year earlier they had asked Inspector General Michael Horowitz of the Department of Justice to review the original FBI probe into Russia. It isn’t clear whether or not Barr reviewed the letter from the senators. According to information received by Fox News, lawmakers wanted Barr to review the material given to him before he reviewed Mueller’s report, due to the fact that they were concerned about selective emails giving a “nefarious” impression.
Fox News was also able to receive the letter from 2017 that Grassley wrote to Mueller, which pointed out his concerns over the “absence of additional context” in the court filings. He also pointed out his concerns about how the documents were being portrayed by the media. “The glaring lack of [context] feeds speculation and innuendo that distorts the facts,” wrote Grassley.
In the letter they wrote to Barr in March, Graham and Grassley pointed out specific emails that were quoted in the Statement of Offense against the former adviser for Trump, George Papadopolous. According to the court filing, Papadopolous sent an email to another campaign official in May of 2016 that had the subject line: “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.” The document pointed out that the email stated that Russia “has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.” A footnote was added to explain that the official forwarded the email to a different campaign official to discuss: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
The senators explained that media outlets grabbed on to the fragments of the report, saying that a “Campaign official suggested ‘low level’ staff should go to Russia.” Still, they also said that the full emails, which were taken from the Trump campaign, have a completely different story to tell.” In full context, the emails in question actually show that the Trump Campaign wanted someone ‘low level’ to decline these types of invitations,” wrote Grassley and Graham in the letter to Barr.
The senators also added: “Another citation was reported by some news outlets as evidence that the campaign, notably Papadopoulos and Sam Clovis, encouraged personnel to meet with the Russians.” According to the original court document, this line stated that a campaign adviser, who would later be identified as Clovis, told Papadopolous “I would encourage you” and another adviser to “make the trip” if possible, which was speaking about the meeting with the Russians.
The senators also wrote that “additional context shows that Papadopoulos had conversations with representatives from multiple governments, not just Russia, and that Clovis had opposed any trip to Russia for Mr. Trump and the campaign.” In October of 2017, Papadopolous pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents in regards to his connection to the Russia investigation. Currently, Papadopolous is on a 12-month supervised release from federal prison. He is currently looking to be pardoned by President Trump.
In late February of 2018, Graham and Grassley sent a letter to Horowitz. In the letter, the senators requested that Horowitz have his office look into “potential improper political influence, misconduct, and mismanagement” of the investigations into the possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The request was made was before Mueller was appointed to the investigation.
“The referral was based in part on materially inconsistent statements reportedly made by Christopher Steele, the author of the anti-Trump dossier funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election,” said Grassley and Graham in their letter to Barr.
They continue by saying: “The documents we have reviewed also raise questions about the role Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official whose wife worked for Fusion GPS, had in passing allegations from Steele and Fusion GPS to the FBI after the FBI had terminated Mr. Steele as a source.” The IG’s office is currently reviewing potential abuses of surveillance by the FBI, as well as improper gifts received by officials, as well as leaks let out by FBI officials.