Congress

Mysterious dossier delivered to Congress by State Department watchdog

Documents said to contain conspiracy theories related to Ukraine

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick departs a meeting with congressional staffers and Rep. Jamie Raskin on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The State Department’s inspector general on Wednesday shared with Congress a dossier of unknown origins that one lawmaker said contained conspiracy theories and was hand-delivered to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo months ago.

With members away from the Capitol for a two-week recess, Steve Linick, the State Department’s top watchdog, briefed congressional staffers Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, on the documents that Raskin said arrived at the department in May.

“It raises more questions than it answers,” Raskin said of the documents. “The inspector general had no idea where it came from.”

Linick’s briefing comes after Pompeo rebuffed a congressional subpoena for five current and former State Department officials to testify in the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Raskin said that Linick turned over the dossier to the FBI but had not taken any action with respect to the documents within the State Department. Raskin said that Linick decided to give the documents to Congress after the White House whistleblower complaint, upon which House Democrats are basing their impeachment inquiry, became public.

Raskin called the documents a distraction from the case for impeaching President Donald Trump.

“There’s nothing in here that I think is directly relevant to the president’s impeachable conduct,” he said. 

Raskin said the documents are unclassified and posited that they came from the White House. He said they mention the family of former vice president and 2020 hopeful Joe Biden, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled in May.

Raskin reiterated that he and Linick are unaware of the documents’ origins, but said the information in the dossier fits with the narrative espoused by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

One Democratic source familiar with the meeting said that the White House sent the envelope to Pompeo at the State Department and that it contained multiple Trump International Hotel folders with notes from interviews with various Ukrainian officials that took place at Giuliani’s New York City office  regarding debunked conspiracy theories related to Ukraine.

“It’s pretty clear whoever put it together was attempting to advance exactly the storyline Mr. Giuliani was,” Raskin said.

House Democrats have also subpoenaed Giuliani in connection to the impeachment inquiry.

While Raskin assumes the aggregator or author of the dossier is doing Giuliani’s bidding, he has other looming questions.

“Why was Secretary of State Pompeo in possession of this packet of disinformation? Why did he distribute it and circulate it? To whom else did he distribute and circulate it? And why was his staff involved in that process?” Raskin said.

Raskin, a member of the Judiciary Committee — a panel with jurisdiction over impeachment — said he was unaware of how Linick obtained the dossier, which is around 40 pages, but said that “he may have gotten it from the State Department counsel.”

Raskin said he and the committee staffers briefed by Linick would brief their absent colleagues, two of whom were present in the Capitol on Wednesday: House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Lindsey McPherson, Katherine Tully-McManus and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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