Just a few days prior to his inauguration, several news outlets obtained and published the contents of a dossier filled with compromising — although unsubstantiated — information about President Trump, including the claim that the Kremlin has a video of Trump having prostitutes urinate on a bed in a Moscow hotel where Barack and Michelle Obama once stayed.
President Trump has dismissed all the claims made in the dossier as “fake news.” However, Congress has taken the allegations very seriously. Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee met with the head of the research firm that compiled the dossier, and, on Tuesday, the Washington Examiner revealed that the House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed the FBI and the Justice Departments for documents related to it.
The committee wants to know more about the FBI’s relationship with Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, and the bureau’s potential role in supporting opposition research against Trump during his campaign.
The committee issued the subpoenas on August 24, and the FBI and the Justice Department both had until last Friday, September 1, to turn over the information. Neither department complied, however, so the committee has extended the deadline until September 14.
The committee also sent two additional subpoenas, one to FBI Director Christopher Wray, and the other to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, directing them to appear before the committee and explain why they didn’t turn over the information when they were first directed to.
The subpoenas came after the committee spent months sending letters requesting information about connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), a member of the committee who has taken a leading role in the investigation, said in a phone interview with the Washington Examiner about the repeated requests for information:
‘We got nothing. The witnesses have not been produced and the documents have not been produced.’
Gowdy also noted that a subpoena “is a tool of last resort in Congress.”
The congressman explained that he wants to know “the extent to which [the dossier] was relied upon, if at all, by any of our intelligence agencies or federal law enforcement agencies” as well as how the agencies vetted or corroborated the information in it. He also said that many of the committee’s questions have to do with the dossier.
‘Several of our lines of questions centered on the dossier, or, if you don’t like the word “dossier,” just insert “the origin of the Russia investigation.”‘
Gowdy went on to express frustration over the Justice Department’s unwillingness to comply with the committee’s requests.
‘I’m sure you’re noting with the same irony I’m noting the difficulty that a Republican Congress is having getting information from a Department of Justice run by Jeff Sessions.’
Despite these frustrations, Gowdy made it clear that the committee will not give up anytime soon.
‘Congress created the FBI, we created the Department of Justice, we’re the ones who passed the laws that set the boundaries of their jurisdiction, and and we’re the ones that fund them. It is not illegitimate for us to ask what prompted this investigation, and it is certainly not illegitimate for us to test and probe the reliability of that underlying information, particularly if, in theory, there are either charging decisions and/or court filings that relied upon that information.’
Featured image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images.