Introduction

This series explores in depth the House and Senate testimonies (165 pages and 312 pages, respectively) of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, as well as a handful of related documents, in hopes of providing a clearer picture of the story behind the Trump dossier and the meeting at Trump Tower.

Additional documents covered in this series include:

  • The Trump dossier, compiled by Christopher Steele (June-December, 2016)
  • The notes of Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer at the Trump Tower meeting (June 9, 2016)
  • The introductory statement of William Browder to the Senate Judiciary Committee (July 26, 2017)
  • The Nunes memo (released February2, 2018)

Each Simpson testimony takes two tracks. Republicans mainly focused their questions on Fusion’s research work on a legal case against a company called Prevezon Holdings. Democrats mainly focused on opposition research that Fusion did for partisan clients into Donald Trump.


My Biases

I have strong (generally left-leaning) opinions about Trump/Russia, but my goal is to be as neutral as possible in this series: my ultimate objective is to understand the truth. I began writing this as much to help myself figure things out as to present it to others. As such, there is information in this series supporting both Democratic and Republican biases.

My general belief has been that Donald Trump may or may not have personally “colluded” with Russian efforts to help him win the 2016 Presidential campaign, but that some of his campaign staff were involved with the Russians and cooperated with Russian efforts. I also believe that over the course of his real estate career, Trump has been involved in money laundering, and that a fair amount of that has been for Russians.

I believe that the Kremlin may very possibly have “kompromat” on Trump, in the form described in the Steele dossier. More likely, however, I think that they also have kompromat on Trump related to money laundering for Russian organized crime figures and oligarchs. I believe that Trump knows that the Kremlin has this kompromat on him, which is why he is so uncharacteristically positive about Putin and Russia, and why his actions related to Putin have been so opaque.

I believe that because some of Putin’s kompromat on Trump relates to Trump’s finances, it is essential for Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation to include an in-depth examination of those finances in order to understand possible motives for “collusion.” Because money laundering is, by its nature, intentionally complex and its purpose is to conceal and obscure the truth within that complexity, Mueller’s investigation will likely need a very long time to reach completion.

I came away from Simpson’s testimonies with all of these beliefs intact. However, I also came away with an awareness that there is much more to the story than what I had heard – including a not-insignificant connection between Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, the attorney who met with Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner at Trump Tower. Glossing over this connection would enable readers to avoid potentially coming to an understanding that is less cut and dry than the generally accepted Democratic narrative: this series will not ignore that connection.


Why were Glenn Simpson’s testimonies made public?

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, appointed by President Trump, named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to conduct an independent investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, potential cooperation between the Kremlin and the Trump Campaign, and allegations that President Trump obstructed justice. The U.S. House and Senate have also been conducting their own investigations.

Of all of the investigations, Mueller’s is the one most likely to reveal the truth in depth, due to Mueller’s advantages of time, resources and staff, as well as a decreased likelihood of partisan influence in what he allows as evidence in his investigation.

Many Republicans and Democrats have (differing) objections to the way that some of these investigations are taking place. Many Democrats support the proper completion of all investigations, and believe that Republicans – including some on the investigating committees – are trying to sabotage the investigations and undermine the credibility of Mueller and the FBI, possibly as a pretext for cutting short Mueller’s investigation before anything damaging to Trump is discovered.

Many Republicans believe that people within the FBI are part of a “deep state” operation to sabotage the Trump Presidency. They believe that the work of Fusion GPS was either a part of that effort, was part of a misinformation campaign by the Russian government, or was part of a partisan effort to help Clinton win the election by creating a fake reason to investigate and discredit Trump as a candidate and as President.

On August 17, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, the organization whose contractor Christopher Steele produced the infamous Trump dossier. Simpson voluntarily made himself available for 10 hours of interviewing. On November 14, 2017, Simpson gave and additional 6 hours of testimony under oath to the House Intelligence Committee.

On January 5, 2018, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for an investigation into Christopher Steele’s distribution of information from his Trump investigation. Simpson said that Fusion stood by their research, and expressed a desire to make the transcript of his testimony public.

On January 9, 2018, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), concerned that Grassley’s and Graham’s demands were potentially part of Republican efforts to undermine the investigation, made public the entire transcript of Simpsons Senate Judiciary testimony without advance notice to the rest of the Judiciary Committee. The testimony provided an extremely revealing look into the information that is shaping opinions on both sides of the aisle.

On January 18, 2018, after Simpson also expressed a desire for his House testimony to be made public, the House Intelligence Committee made public the entire transcript of that testimony as well.

– rob rünt


Read more of this special series:
The Trump-Russia Web


 

 

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