On January 9, 2018, Senator Feinstein did the unthinkable for someone who has had so many years of service in the US Senate. She went against Senate protocol and released the entire Senate Judiciary Committee Interview Transcript for Fusion GPS CEO and co-founder Glenn Simpson to the public. It has created a huge firestorm in the media and a rift in the protocol of the Senate especially for a closed-door meeting.
In August 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee was to vote on whether the transcript would be released to the public though Grassley presumed they would be released. Nothing appeared after that time to suggest a decision had been reached. Interestingly during the last moments of the transcript, Mr. Levy specifically addressed the need for confidentiality though no assurance that the transcript would be kept confidential was made.
Yet apparently the story changed for some reason–Fusion GPS did finally request that the transcript be released supposedly putting pressure on the Judiciary Democrat members to do so just before Feinstein released the document. One might question why they had a change of mind. Perhaps it was because on January 4, Senator Grassley informed Rosenstein at the DoJ by letter that he was referring Mr. Steele for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, for statements the Committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier.
Since the release of the transcript there have been several articles outlining authors own ideas of what is important as a take away from the transcript.
The Federalist seemed to cover many talking points. Their reasoning can be found at the link.:
- Most Interesting Part Turned Out Not To Be True – source within the Trump campaign
- Substance Of The Dossier Was Not Verified By Fusion GPS
- Impetus For Going to the FBI Turned Out To Be Disinformation Or Misinformation
- Dossier Author Was In a Relationship With The FBI
- Russia Is Either Good Or Bad, Depending
- Despite Knowing Everyone At Trump Tower Meeting, Claims No Knowledge
- Simpson Misleads About Democratic Ties
- Fusion Pushed Dossier During Campaign
- Journalistic Retaliation
- What Was Feinstein Thinking?
I, however, don’t like to rely on others if I have documents available. For better or worse, thanks to Feinstein, the transcript is now available for public viewing. The actual document can be read on Script or found HERE at LawFare.
So for the last few days, I read and made notes on a page by page, line by line basis. I am including the link here for those that want to see where my points come from. Of course, there were a lot of pauses and brain rests but I finally finished. The information I wrote may not cover every issue nor talking point but I think I can at least speak a bit more to the contents than just posting the talking points of a few others.
Here are my take away points.
1) First, and foremost, Fusion GPS is supposed to be a factually based public information research group but really is no different from any detective agency or persons tasked with finding out everything they can good or bad on a person or business for a paying client. They are simply much higher paid for their services and swim in international waters with far more dangerous actors. Even bankruptcy lawyers have people within their organizations who do this same legwork to make sure everything is legitimate before they face a judge and creditors.
2) The interview of Glen Simpson was voluntary, not under oath or classified though a few points were redacted. For all intents and purposes as far as I can see the meeting could have been a public hearing and their answers found on C-Span transcripts after legal review without any problem. The lawyers for Simpson as well as Simpson noted that they only felt comfortable in a closed-door session and supposedly to protect their employees after hacking attempts and death threats had been received.
3)Simpson made several odd points that on the surface are disturbing, misleading, or curious.
A. He generates LLC’s like they are a dime a dozen for different reasons and can’t even remember or list them when questioned.
B. LinkedIn noted only 4 employees for Fusion GPS. Simpson himself said much of the work was sub-contracted out if a clear path of public data could not be found. In addition, unlike some major company with more than half a dozen employees, why was he so worried about death threats? For that matter why was he worried about hacking if he destroyed all documentation? And equally puzzling, why would 4 employees not regularly have “bull sessions” so they did not do double duty on research or client lists? Yet he had no idea of what any of the other three worked on or what they were doing? I also get that often “go-getters” are not office management material but obviously unless they run themselves into red-lining often, someone would be able to know what was happening accounting wise or prepare arrangements for travel, etc. At least one of the four people have to have some office skills at least enough to get by and communicate to the other three.
C. In his own words (page 194, line 3-4) – they used encrypted messages by phone, rarely written but encrypted as well, and did not keep notes…the reason was there was credible evidence that their company was having hacking attempts and they were in his words “using things that can’t be stolen because they no longer exist.” Now how, as he noted in passing near the end, could that be true if he carried running files on topics/people of interest and wouldn’t he have to provide some form of documentation folders or storage in case a client had his information destroyed or deleted? This by itself makes me curious as to why they would operate in such a way.
D. If this is a firm that relies on data and public records, then why would they accept an inkling of human input except as it would further their public record search? He admitted that Steele relied on human intelligence not factual documentation. He also admitted that Steele after years of interacting with Russians and others in intelligence gathering felt any human information input could be false. He also admitted that Steele worked on credibility not accuracy. Credibility relies on trustworthiness and believability. How then could that fit in with developing a case for a client that is factual and non-biased.
E. Simpson made it seem as if his client directed his comments to the reporters and investigators but also at the same time noted that part of his operation dealt with pushing information out to the public at his own discretion after the groundwork had been laid and not always at the explicit request of his client. He also made it seem that investigators hunted Fusion people down for quotes without any thought of recompense simply because they were a ready source like an encyclopedia. That might happen but isn’t that believable in the society we live in today. I can see where the client holds sway over what part of the research is made public, about how it is to be stated and to whom. That makes sense especially if the client owns all rights to the research. However, talking points and dropping hints or tidbits of information into the ears of those that would compensate for the information is also reasonable for someone in this line of work. He after all receives information in that way and sub-contractors do not work without being paid.
4) Fusion GPS has been embroiled in several high-profile actions. He admitted (and there is evidence at WSJ) that while being a reporter since the early 2000’s, he has broken information about campaign members for Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and others. So to say that ( page 54, line 10-19 ) “We don’t do a lot of campaign consulting…but in the passage just before say “I am a political reporter covering campaigns and elections.” brings into question just what they are investigating. Examples: Opposition research on Mitt Romney; assisting Planned Parenthood against anti-abortion advocates; and Prevezon Holding through Baker Hostetler.
5) While much of what Simpson repeatedly stated about unbiased, investigative training to be unbiased, and such, it is obvious that stated in his own words, he was biased early 2016 around mid-March against Trump and his efforts were done to make Trump appear in an unfavorable light. I have no idea who that client was but during his WSJ days at the very least when he was looking into Obama and Clinton, he surely came across several people of questionable character and criminal backgrounds because the little I have seen suggests that is true. Yet he focused nearly exclusively on Russian influence and information he was already embroiled in for several years to make a case against Trump.
6) Simpson (page 175, line 6-10) said the FBI was inclined to believe Steele’s information was credible because they had other corroborating information from an informant inside Trump’s campaign group and inside his organization (independent of Steele’s source) yet in testimony just before that noted that he and especially Steele were worried that something was happening inside the FBI. In fact he mentions Steele draws back from interaction. Yet he spoke that the information given, he considered “credible.” This may actually be false since information has come out different to his comments.
There is more but I leave it with this:
Simpson diverted, obfuscated, prevaricated, and attempted to legitimize his kind of business. The fact remains that he and Fusion GPS earn a heck of a lot more money than some “average joe” investigative agency or detective firm in order to find out anything they can that is dirt so that their client can use that in a political, business, or legal way to eliminate competition or remove obstacles. The fact also remains that his company does not work only within the bounds of the United States so should have to report their actions according to the FARA Act just as William Browder tried to say.
In the end after being asked in different ways, Simpson pretty much verified that while over-stated values and lower profit margins, along with legal issue deals and characters who had Russian connections did exist, he could not say with any confidence that Trump in anyway had broken the law nor could he find in public records any such trace.
Nice to see that Senator Grassley followed through and did request DoJ involvement for Fusion GPS before Feinstein pulled her boner.
Update: I missed this ZeroHedge article from November 2017. After the judge permitted the unsealing of Fusion GPS bank records, it seems more of the transcript has holes in it.
Submitted by iBankCoin.com
Unsealed court documents reveal that the firm behind the salacious 34-page Trump-Russia Dossier, Fusion GPS, was paid $523,000 by a Russian businessman convicted of tax fraud and money laundering, whose lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was a key figure in the infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower arranged by Fusion GPS associate Rob Goldstone.
In short, D.C. opposition research firm Fusion GPS is the common denominator linked to two schemes used to damage the Trump campaign.
DNC law firm Perkins Coie paid Fusion a total of $1,024,408 in 2016 for opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump – including the 34-page dossier.
Ross also reports that law firm Baker Hostelter paid Fusion $523,651 between March and October 2016 on behalf of a company owned by Russian businessman and money launderer Denis Katsyv to research Bill Browder, a London banker who helped push through the Magnitsky Act
– page 258, line 9-21 – when asked point blank if Fusion interacted and took money from the Russian government the answer was a flat no.
If you don’t believe business men in Russia have direct pipeline connections to government then I have a bridge in the swamps I want to sell you.