Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is intensifying inquiries into Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who some Republicans suspect may have links to the former MI6 agent behind the controversial “Steele dossier.”
A series of text messages between Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and a D.C.-based lobbyist named Adam Waldman, published by Fox News earlier this month, revealed that Waldman was acting as an intermediary for both Deripaska and the former British spy, Christopher Steele, to negotiate for cooperation with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s election interference.
Grassley this week sent a letter to Waldman requesting an interview and demanding information on Steele’s relationship to Deripaska.
“Is it the case that Mr. Steele, through you, works or has worked on behalf of Mr. Deripaska or businesses associated with him? If so, when has such work occurred?” Grassley asked.
“Are you otherwise aware of any business or financial relationships between Mr. Steele and Russian government officials, Russian oligarchs, or Russian businesses?”
He has previously pressed a U.K. lawyer believed to represent Deripaska on the same issues.
Separately on Wednesday, Grassley also issued a letter to the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security requesting visa records and immigration history details for Deripaska, writing that, “Notably, after Mr. Waldman began to advocate for him, Mr. Deripaska was apparently issued a diplomatic passport, and allowed entry into the United States.”
The Judiciary chairman, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), has had Steele in their sights for months and the pair have asked the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into the former spy.
Republicans have increasingly sought to tie Russia to the creation of the dossier, which was paid for in part by Hillary Clinton ‘s campaign and contains a series of unproven allegations claiming ties between President Trump and Russia. House Intelligence Committee Republicans earlier this month released a previously-classified document alleging that the Justice Department inappropriately used the dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
“The truth is that they [Democrats] are covering up that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians to get dirt on Trump to feed it to the FBI to open up an investigation into the other campaign,” House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said earlier this month.
House Intelligence Democrats in a countermemo released Saturday claimed that elements of the dossier about Page have been corroborated by intelligence officials, though the details were redacted.
Deripaska, an aluminum magnate, owns one of Russia’s largest industrial groups and is closely aligned with President Vladimir Putin.