Whitehouse, however, said that a July 27 Judiciary Committee hearing called by Grassley was part of a Republican effort to discredit Steele by creating “confusion” and the false impression that Russia paid Steele for the dossier.
“It could not have been clearer that there is no evidence of any Russian role behind the Steele dossier,” Whitehouse said.
A Judiciary Committee aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “The American people need to be able to trust that the FBI and Justice Department are operating free from political influence. That’s what this investigation is about, and we will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
Despite recusing himself in April from the House Intelligence Committee investigation, the Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, is also trying to discredit Steele’s work, sources familiar with the probe said.
On Tuesday, Nunes subpoenaed the partners who run Fusion GPS, the U.S. opposition research firm that hired Steele, a source familiar with the matter said.
“This is a blatant attempt to undermine the reporting of the so-called ‘dossier,’ even as its core conclusion of a broad campaign by the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election has been confirmed by the U.S. intelligence community and is now widely accepted as fact,” Joshua Levy, counsel to Fusion GPS, said in a statement.
Committee Democrat Eric Swalwell also fired back, saying Nunes told Congress he had recused himself and that issuing the subpoenas would violate that recusal.
“It is also a way to go it alone, not work with Democrats, and it looks like he is trying to again undermine the investigation,” Swalwell said.
Nunes also used his power last month to issue subpoenas to the FBI and Justice Department, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, demanding that they surrender their files on Steele, his dossier, and their investigations into his work.
So far, the Justice Department and FBI have not turned over the information Nunes requested because of the FBI investigation, which is supervised by special counsel Mueller.
Mueller’s office declined to comment on the request or the investigation.