House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes has sent a series of questions about the Trump dossier to a number of current and former government officials. The committee did not specify to whom Nunes sent the questions, but a spokesman said the letter has gone to more than 20 recipients.
The questions concern when the recipients first became aware of “the information contained in the Steele dossier,” referring to the compilation of anti-Trump allegations compiled during the 2016 campaign by former British spy Christopher Steele. The letter asks who the recipients may have shared dossier information with. They ask when the recipient first learned that the dossier was financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. They ask when President Obama was made aware of the information in the dossier. And more.
The letter asks for answers by March 2. “If you do not provide timely answers on a voluntary basis, the committee will initiate compulsory process,” the letter says, in a clear threat to subpoena any uncooperative recipients.
Here is the list of questions:
1. When and how did you first become aware of any of the information contained in the Steele dossier?
2. In what form(s) was the information in the Steele dossier presented to you? By whom? (Please describe each instance)
3. Who did you share this information with? When? In what form? (Please describe each instance)
4. What officials actions did you take as a result of receiving the information contained in the Steele dossier?
5. Did you convene any meetings with the intelligence community and/or law enforcement communities as a result of the information contained in the Steele dossier?
6. When did you first learn or come to believe that the Steele dossier was funded by a Democrat-aligned entity?
7. When did you first learn or come to believe that the Steele dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and/or Hillary for America (Clinton campaign)?
8. When did you first become aware that the Steele dossier was used to obtain a FISA order on Carter Page?
9. Was President Obama briefed on any information contained in the dossier prior to January 5, 2017?
10. Did you discuss the information contained in the Steele dossier with any reporters or other representatives of the media? If so, who and when?
One emerging theme in the dossier investigation is how widely information from the dossier was disseminated through the Obama administration. At first, the public learned that a few people in the FBI knew about the dossier in the summer and fall of 2016. Then the public learned that some top officials in the Justice Department knew about the dossier in the same time period. And then the public learned that top officials in the State Department knew about it, too. Now, Nunes wants to know if the extent of that knowledge went even further inside the government.
It is impossible to predict how many recipients will answer Nunes’ letter. Some might respond without supplying substantive answers. Some might not respond at all, reasoning that a congressional subpoena ultimately has little power behind it.
But in recent weeks, some former officials, notably State Department veterans Victoria Nuland and Jonathan Winer, have made voluntary public statements about their own knowledge of and involvement in the dossier matter. At least as far as those two are concerned, it seems unlikely they would decline Nunes’ request since they have already talked about the dossier in appearances on television, a widely-distributed podcast, and a Washington Post op-ed.