The Fusion GPS testimony, made public this afternoon by the totally badass Diane Feinstein, makes it clear that there’s Republican cover-up of the highest order

OK, remember a few days ago, when we were discussing the coordinated Republican campaign to kill the Mueller investigation, and how I mentioned that the President of Fusion GPS, the research firm responsible for having commissioned the so-called Steele Dossier back in 2016, was demanding that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee release the transcript of his August 22, 2017 testimony before their committee? Well, this afternoon, things took an unprecedented turn. Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein decided to release the transcript herself, disregarding the objections of her Republican colleagues. [“The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves,” Feinstein said today in a statement.] And, now, like many folks around the country, I’m slowly making my way though the ten hours of back and forth between Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS and investigators working on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee. As I’m sure you can get better coverage elsewhere on the finer points, I’ll just share my first half dozen observations. And, by the way, I may get some of this wrong, so please feel free to challenge my interpretation of this stuff.

1. THERE GOES THE REPUBLICAN NARRATIVE

The Republicans, I think it’s pretty clear, felt their best chance of stopping the Mueller investigation was to make it look as though the whole thing was a politically motivated attack. And they created a narrative to accomplish that. The story, as they told it, started with Hillary Clinton paying to have a fake dossier written about Trump, which was then handed over to members of Department of Justice who were loyal to Obama, who, in turn, brought Mueller on board to open a sham investigation, or “witch hunt”. But, as we now know for a certainty, absolutely none of that was true. While the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee did begin paying Fusion GPS in April of 2016 to continue their work, the company’s research into Trump, and his ties to Russian organized crime, started during the Republican primary, when the services of the DC-based research firm were retained by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website. Furthermore, as we now know, it was not the Steele Dossier that caused for the investigation to be initiated, but a tip from an Australian diplomat by the name of Alexander Downer in London, who had heard about the Russian hacking campaign against Clinton from Trump advisor George Papadopoulos over drinks. And, of course, there’s also the fact that, according to Simpson, the idea to turn the dossier over to the FBI didn’t come from the Clinton campaign, but from from former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, who had authored the report, and was concerned that Putin might have kompromat (“compromising material”) that could be used as leverage against candidate Trump. Here are two clips from the Simpson testimony.

2. BUT THE FBI ALREADY KNEW EVERYTHING

According to Simpson, though, when Steele took his findings to the FBI, they didn’t seem surprised. In fact, according to Simpson’s recollection, the FBI believed much of what Steele told them, as it corroborated what they’d already heard from a source inside the Trump campaign. [Some seem to think this source wasn’t actually someone inside the Trump campaign as Simpson suggests, but the Australian ambassador noted above, who sought out the FBI to share what he’d learned from George Papadopoulos. Regardless, however, they’d already heard the same story from someone close to the campaign.]

3. BUT, GUESS WHAT, THE FBI DIDN’T ACT ON THE INTELLIGENCE

Steele, according to Simpson, would brief the FBI twice about his findings, first in an early July 2016 meeting that the former British agent had requested, and again in September 2016. This second meeting, according to Simpson, took place in Rome, and was called by the FBI. In spite of this, however, Steele didn’t see much action on the part of the FBI, and stopped working with them on October 31, 2016, after reading a New York Times article titled “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia.” It was that point, according to Simpson, that Steele became “concern about what was going on at the FBI.” The following comes from Politico.

…“There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and we didn’t really understand what was going on,” Simpson testified, calling the Oct. 31 article “a real Halloween special.”

The Times story reported at a critical moment in the 2016 election campign that the FBI had found no “conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government” during a months-long inquiry. The story has come under fire in light of subsequent reporting, much of it by the Times’ own reporters, detailing contacts between the two.

Simpson testified that the article contradicted Steele and Fusion’s own research into Trump’s connections with Russia.

“Chris was confused and somewhat disturbed and didn’t think he understood the landscape and I think both of us felt like things were happening that we didn’t understand and that we must not know everything about, and therefore, you know, in a situation like that the smart thing to do is stand down,” Simpson said…

And here it is from the transcript directly… And, again, it’s probably worth noting that Steele, who had started his career working under diplomatic cover as an MI6 agent in Moscow, ultimately became the head of the Russia Desk at MI6… He, in other words, isn’t the kind of person to be taken lightly by the intelligence community. And Steele, one of the world’s most prominent experts on Russian organized crime, certainly isn’t the kind of person to be used by the DNC to prop up a phony story about Donald Trump. No, he well understood Trump’s ties to the Russian mob, and the threat they posed to U.S. security, and he did the right thing by bringing these concerns to the proper authorities. [Eventually, when the FBI didn’t act, Steele would set up a meeting and hand-delver his dossier to Senator John McCain, who brought the documents back to Jim Comey.]

4. FUSION GPS ISN’T A LEFT WING ENTITY

One of the things that I find most interesting about all of this is the fact that Fusion GPS, prior to working on this project, which, of course, they outsourced to Steele’s company (Orbis Business Intelligence), was working on behalf of the Russians to overturn the Magnitsky Act sanctions. Here’s a tweet from earlier today by Magnitsky friend Bill Browder, the Head of Global Magnitsky Justice campaign, and Author of the book Red Notice. [If you’re not familiar with the story of Sergei Magnitsky, I’d suggest you do some reading, as it’s really central to this whole story.] So, again, this really isn’t a situation where a left leaning entity was working to politically undermine Trump. Simpson, for Chrissake, was a journalist for the conservative Wall Street Journal before launching his own company, and doing work for the baddies.

5. THE REPUBLICANS KNEW THIS WAS SERIOUS, BUT THEY FOUGHT IT

‏A few days ago, in an attempt to slow down the investigation, Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham referred Christopher Steele to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. The implication, of course, was that Steele had someone broken the law in the way in which he handled this report. Having now read the transcript, though, it’s difficult to see how anyone could come to that conclusion, which I’m sure it why Feinstein released them. The Steele allegations of money laundering and conspiracy were credible, and yet the Republican members of Congress fought to keep this investigation from going forward, going so far as to suggest ulterior motives on the part of Steele, who, as far as I can tell, cares more about the security and stability of our country than any Republican on Capitol Hill… As Congressman Ted Lieu said today, “the Fusion GPS transcript shows that what Senators Grassley & Graham did last week in publicly referring Christopher Steele for criminal investigation was, at best, a partisan publicity stunt and, at worst, intentionally designed to mislead the American people.” To put a finer point on it, on August 22, 2017, members of Congress knew for a certainty that the Department of Justice investigation into Trump did not have it’s origins with the Steele Dossier. They know from Simpson’s testimony, if they didn’t already know, that the investigation began with a source inside the Trump campaign. In spite of this, though, they repeatedly told the public that this whole investigation was nothing more than a Democratic witch hunt intended to damage the Trump administration politically. It’s absolutely shameful, if not illegal, and every Republican current serving in Congress should be immediately driven from office. They put tax cuts for their wealthy donors before the security of their country, and they should be made to pay dearly for that decision.

6. YES, YOU HEARD RIGHT, IT’S BEING SAID THAT SOMEONE DIED AS A RESULT OF THE DOSSIER

Josh Levy, the attorney for Fusion GPS, who accompanied Simpson to his August 22nd appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, mentioned during the course of the 10 hour session that “somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier.” I, for one, would be interested in knowing to whom he’s referring.

I could go on forever with this stuff, but I really need to sleep… Good night, my invisible friends.

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11 Comments

  1. Iron Lung
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    It just keeps getting worse.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Natasha Bertrand of the Business Insider:

    “Source close to Fusion tells me the Trump campaign source Simpson referenced in SJC testimony was Papadopoulos. Separately, the FBI’s walk-in source was a reference to Australian diplomat who reported Papadopoulos’ comments about Russian dirt in mid-2016.”

  3. Anonymous
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Seth Abramson:

    “OK, so on August 22, 2017, the GOP learns the entire Russia investigation was started by a Trump whistleblower and was not a Democratic hoax. What did they do with that information next?”

  4. Diane Feinstein by proxy
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    On the Steele Dossier: “to my knowledge there has not been a single fact in that report that has been proven to be incorrect…”

  5. Jean Henry
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    This is great. I didn’t know the history of Simpson and Russia. I also didn’t know that the accusation of murder entered this. Although Steele has been very careful. Of course it involves the Russians, and the Russians are known to simply off anyone who threatens them, like a bad Spy movie… or a totalitarian state.

    (Queue up HW’s counter accusations of Clinton intrigue and murder…)

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    To be fair to the GOP, Obama also had that intel. And chose to do nothing. Because he didn’t want to be seen as interfering in an election, so as to protect the legitimacy of that election… which was to be of Clinton. Remember in a land far away, no one thought Trump would win?

  7. Trump just tweeted
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Donald J. Trump: “The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace. Must have tough Primary!”

    https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/951106475254059008

  8. Kim
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Did you read the Daily Beast piece last night where Grassley said that Simpson is the real Russian operative?

    Grassley says Simpson was “uncooperative, he was colluding with the Russians, he was colluding with the Democrats, and he was, all the time, denying those things.”

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/christopher-steele-stopped-dealing-with-fbi-after-new-york-times-reported-fbi-saw-no-trump-russia-link

  9. 734
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Trump also got on Twitter and begged the Republicans to assert themselves and stop the investigation.

    “The single greatest Witch Hunt in American history continues. There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems knows there was no collusion, & yet on and on it goes. Russia & the world is laughing at the stupidity they are witnessing. Republicans should finally take control!” – your president

  10. Fox News
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    The Fox News spin:
    pic.twitter.com/7CT12AURY0

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted January 10, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – H. L. Mencken, 1920.

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