The FBI probe, now taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller, has resulted in two indictments and two guilty pleas, including from Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. A source familiar with the committee's investigation said the referral stems from at least one statement Steele made to the FBI about the timing of discussions with journalists about the content of the dossier, which conflicts with what he told another source.
Grassley, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, earlier called for a Justice Department investigation of Fusion GPS, suggesting the firm was involved in a Russian-linked lobbying campaign to undermine the 2012 U.S. Magnitsky Act, which punishes Russians deemed to be human rights abusers. "But, as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review".
Graham said in a separate statement that "after reviewing how Mr. Steele conducted himself in distributing information contained in the dossier and how many stop signs the DOJ ignored in its use of the dossier, I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter".
Steele, a former MI6 officer with deep experience in Russian Federation, was hired by a Washington-based political research firm known as Fusion GPS in the summer 2016. It has faced renewed criticism as conservatives have ramped up attacks on perceived bias within the Department of Justice.
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The statement notes that the referral "is not meant to be an allegation of a crime".
Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations in the dossier. Nunes' committee has been seeking information about Steele's research for months.
The New York Times reported last week that Australian officials passed information about a Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, to United States counterparts after he bragged that Russian Federation had compromising information about Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate.
Grassley and Graham did not specify what information they had about Steele that they say warrants a criminal investigation.
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The Australian government chose to share the information with US investigators after emails stolen from Democrats began to be released by WikiLeaks.
The FBI then began its investigation.
Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, will be interviewed next week by lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, according an official familiar with the House Intelligence Committee's plans. "We should all be skeptical in the extreme".
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