GOP Senators Recommend Criminal Probe of ex-U.K. Spy Behind Explosive Russia-Trump Dossier

This is the first known criminal referral in congressional probes into Russia's meddling in the U.S. presidential election

Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele speaks to the media, London, March 7, 2017.
Victoria Jones/AP

Two Republican senators on Friday recommended a criminal investigation into former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier that purported to expose Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump campaign's complicity. 

The New York Times reported that this was the first known congressional criminal referral made in connection to the Russian meddling. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Charles E. Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham, a senior committee member, urged the Justice Department to investigate Steele over alleged lying to federal authorities about contacts with reporters regarding information in the file.

The criminal referral comes a year after Republican leaders promised to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The dossier was reportedly produced as opposition research for the presidential campaign. The report contained unproven information on close coordination between Trump's inner circle and the Russians about hacking into Democratic accounts — as well as unproven claims about unusual sexual activities by Trump attributed to anonymous sources.

Much of the information dossier, which came out nearly a year ago, remains unsubstantiated.

Steele, 52, worked for MI6, Britain's overseas intelligence agency, and served in Moscow in the early 1990s. After leaving the agency, he and a partner started Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd. in 2009. The firm provides strategic advice, gathers intelligence and conducts cross-border investigations, according to its website.