U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is seeking information from a political opposition research firm as he continues to dig into the origins of a dossier that made controversial but unsubstantiated allegations about President Donald Trump.
Grassley's office announced Monday that he had sent the letter to a company called Fusion GPS asking a series of questions.
Earlier this month, Grassley had contacted the FBI seeking information from the agency after The Washington Post reported that last fall the bureau had agreed to pay a former spy who had compiled the dossier to continue his work. The payments were never made, the Post reported, but Grassley said the agreement was still troubling. The former spy was hired by Fusion, at first at the behest of a Republican critic, according to reports. Later, Democratic allies of Hillary Clinton's paid for the work.
In the new letter, dated Friday, Grassley asked a series of questions about arrangements between Fusion and its clients — as well as about the company's contacts with the FBI. Among the questions: Whether any of Fusion's clients suggested that the dossier be supplied to the FBI.
"When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics. The Committee requires additional information to evaluate this situation," Grassley wrote in the letter. He asked for a reply by April 7.
The senator's letter comes amid an FBI investigation into Russia's influence on the U.S. presidential election.
In January, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded the Russians meddled in the election and had a preference for Trump. But the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said the dossier, which contained allegations regarding Trump campaign contacts with Russian operatives, did not contribute to its conclusion.
The intelligence agencies' report contained no evidence of collusion with the Trump campaign, and the president has dismissed the story of Russian influence as "fake news."