Mueller’s Testimony: A Rorschach Test for Americans

Mueller’s Testimony: A Rorschach Test for Americans

Democrats believed that bringing Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees on July 24, 2019 was a way to allow a non-reading American public to finally hear the full story told in Mueller’s 448-page report: people could hear the testimony on TV or radio. Republicans saw the testimony as a stunt to resuscitate a non-issue, and an opportunity to prove some of their Deep State theories about the origins of the Trump-Russia story.

As a reluctant, and at times confused, Mueller testified, both sides got what they wanted, but their supporters likely heard – or willfully chose to overlook – uncomfortably contrary information in the process.

Democrats illuminated some major findings from Mueller’s Report:

  • The report did not exonerate the President on the charge of obstruction of justice
  • Some people interviewed by Mueller’s team lied, pled the 5th, destroyed evidence, and had communicated electronically in ways that could not be traced
  • These factors may have affected the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to prove coordination between the Trump Campaign and the Kremlin
  • Trump’s Campaign Manager, Paul Manafort, gave a Russian operative named Konstantin Kilimnik internal Trump Campaign strategy information and internal campaign polling data, which may have helped with the Russians’ social media activities to interfere with the 2016 Presidential election
  • The Trump Campaign did not try to discourage Russia’s illegal interference efforts – including hacking Clinton and Democratic emails – and in fact embraced those efforts and planned their media strategy and campaign messaging around them
  • Russians made approximately 120 known contacts with the Trump Campaign
  • After Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference began, the President publicly and privately worked to discourage key people from cooperating with the investigation
  • The President also encouraged key people to “stay strong” and avoid cooperating with the investigation: the President and his legal staff even suggested pardons for some
  • The President made multiple efforts to stop Mueller’s investigation, including asking a number of associates to fire Mueller
  • White House Lawyer Don McGahn was so upset at being asked to do this that he prepared to resign
  • The President asked McGahn to deny being asked to fire Mueller, and asked McGahn to create a written document for the White House’s records falsely stating that the request had never taken place
  • The President also made many efforts to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “un-recuse” himself from the Mueller investigation, because he wanted Sessions to protect him from the investigation
  • The Office of Legal Counsel’s guidance that a sitting President cannot be indicted factored significantly into Mueller’s decision not to charge the President with obstruction of justice
  • A President who has committed illegal acts can be indicted after leaving office
  • Other investigations that were spun off from the Mueller investigation are still in progress, which may reveal further acts of criminality

But Republican questioning also brought some important facts to light which have not been given adequate attention:

  • Natalia Veselnitskaya – the Russian lawyer in the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting – had hired Fusion GPS (producer of the Steele Dossier) in 2014 on behalf of her client, a Russian firm called Prevezon Holdings
  • From June 8-10, 2016, Veselnitskaya spent more time with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson than she did with Trump Campaign officials
  • The “dirt on Hillary Clinton” that Veselnitskaya was offering was information that Simpson had uncovered while working for Veselnitskaya and Prevezon Holdings
  • The relationship between Veselnitskaya and Simpson (whose hiring of former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele ultimately provided some of the first indications of Russian election interference) was never examined by Mueller
  • It is possible that the Steele Dossier contained misinformation intentionally provided to Christopher Steele by his Russian sources
  • Konstantin Kilimnik, the Russian intelligence operative to whom Paul Manafort gave Trump Campaign polling data and strategy information, may also be an asset of the U.S. State Department
  • Joseph Mifsud, the alleged source for George Papadopoulos’ belief that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary, was interviewed by the FBI and lied to them three times, but remarkably was never charged
  • Mifsud, a professor, may be a Russian intelligence agent or a western intelligence agent
  • Several of the prosecutors hired by Mueller to investigate Trump had collectively given over $60,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign

Time will tell whether Mueller’s testimony moves the needle toward at least beginning an impeachment inquiry, but Mueller’s testimony makes clear that Donald Trump committed federal crimes that would be immediately prosecutable if he were not the President. It also makes clear that there is still more of the story that has not been uncovered. In the end, what Mueller’s testimony may most effectively prove is Americans’ ability to tune out information that they don’t want to hear.

– rob rünt

Full Transcript of Mueller’s House Judiciary Committee Testimony

Full Transcript of Mueller’s House Intelligence Committee Testimony

When the Right Wing Lunatic Fringe isn’t so Crazy

When the Right Wing Lunatic Fringe isn’t so Crazy

When the Right Wing Lunatic Fringe isn’t so Crazy

Many of us have become numb to the nonsensical right wing “Deep State” conspiracy theories being used by Trump and his most rabid supporters to discredit and prematurely end the Mueller investigation: Robert Mueller is a criminal; it was actually Hillary Clinton who colluded with Russia; James Comey was a “Clinton fixer.” So when legitimately questionable information surfaces, many on the left shrug and write it off as more of the same. There are two issues, however, which, if we are being intellectually honest, we need to acknowledge, discuss and come to terms with.

One of those is the role of Bruce and Nellie Ohr in the Trump-Russia case.

In late 2015, the conservative publication Washington Free Beacon, whose owner was believed to be a supporter of Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, hired research firm Fusion GPS to look into the background of then Presidential candidate Donald Trump. After Trump won the primary in mid 2016, the Beacon understandably stopped paying Fusion to research Trump. However, Perkins Coie, a law firm representing the Clinton Campaign, soon began paying Fusion GPS to continue the research.

By that point, according to Fusion founder Glenn Simpson’s testimonies to the House and Senate, Fusion had compiled enough information to see that the most curious aspects of Trump’s background were related to his potential organized crime connections and his activities in Russia.

To help perform further research into these matters, in mid 2016, Fusion contracted former-British-spy-turned-consultant Christopher Steele, with whom Simpson had worked on previous research projects, who was a top expert on Russia with a reputation for producing accurate information, and who had a number of longtime trusted sources within Russia for gathering his information. Over the next several months, Steele talked with his sources and produced 17 memos for Fusion GPS about Trump-Russia that came to be known as “the Steele dossier.”


 

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According to Simpson, Steele quickly became so alarmed by what he was uncovering – an active plot by Russia to put a Kremlin-compromised President in the Oval Office – that he told Simpson that he considered it his professional duty to contact U.S. law enforcement immediately. Simpson told Steele that he did not know anyone that he could contact. Steele said that he had connected in the past with law enforcement in the U.S. on other cases and would take care of the notification. Steele followed through on this in early July of 2016.

The part of the narrative that becomes questionable is that one person to whom Steele reached out – either in July or later on – appears to have been a longtime acquaintance, Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr. Allegedly without Steele’s awareness, Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie coincidentally happened to be one of a tiny group of people (countable on one’s fingers) who was also being employed by Fusion GPS to investigate Donald Trump. And Bruce Ohr was allegedly unaware that his wife was doing this work. And Glenn Simpson was apparently unaware of who Nellie Ohr’s husband was. The coincidences and lack of awareness of others’ activities within this small group of people seems remarkable.

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Another issue that is grossly under-reported in the mainstream media is the connection between Fusion GPS and the Trump Tower meeting.

Around 2013, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya retained U.S. law firm Baker Hostetler to assist her with a money laundering case that the U.S. government had brought against her client, Prevezon Holdings, a company based on the island of Cyprus. (Cyprus is notorious as a place where wealthy Russians launder illegally-obtained money). In Spring of 2014, Baker hired Fusion GPS to do research for the Prevezon case. Fusion’s Prevezon research led to questions about financial dealings of a hedge fund manager named William Browder.

William Browder has a long adversarial history with Vladimir Putin. In the mid 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, an atmosphere of lawlessness pervaded Russia. Wealthy oligarchs took advantage of the situation to dramatically increase their wealth by grabbing up former state-owned assets, and ethically unrestrained entrepreneurs found ways to get rich quickly as well. Browder allegedly made his own fortune by creating a hedge fund, Hermitage Capital, that assured investors that the Russian companies it invested in were uniquely law abiding and therefore less likely to be prone to unpredictable plunges in value.

To offer this assurance, Browder would investigate the companies. If he found wrongdoing, he reported it to the Russian government. This was looked upon favorably by a rising Vladimir Putin, who saw Browder’s investigations as a way to ensure that Russian businesses and oligarchs were not cheating the Russian government out of the tax money that it deserved.

As Putin’s power grew, Putin’s view of Browder’s activities changed sharply. According to Browder, Putin had begun directly taking a percentage of all illicit money “earned” by the Russian mafia and oligarchs, and Browder’s exposure of corruption was getting in the way.

In 2005, Browder was arrested and deported from Russia as a “threat to national security.” Eighteen months later, the Russian Interior Ministry raided the Moscow office of Browder’s company, Hermitage Capital Management, and seized “all the corporate documents connected to the investment holding companies of the funds that [Browder] advised.”

Browder hired attorney Sergei Magnitsky to investigate. Magnitsky determined that the documents were being used to re-register Browder’s holding companies to a convicted murderer named Viktor Markelov, and $230 million in taxes allegedly paid to the Russian government by Browder’s companies had been diverted elsewhere.

When Magnitsky notified the Russian authorities of this crime, he was jailed, where he remained for over a year under increasingly terrible conditions. He was regularly pressured, unsuccessfully, by the Russian government to sign a statement that he had stolen the $230 million from Browder. On November 16, 2009, Magnitsky was chained in an isolated prison cell and beaten to death by eight guards.

To avenge the man who had died on his behalf, Browder pushed the U.S. legislature to enact what eventually became known as the Magnitsky Act, which passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by then President Obama in November of 2012. The Act froze the U.S.-based assets of all Russian oligarchs (and Putin) who were believed to have been responsible for Magnitsky’s death. Russian oligarchs tend to invest their illicit wealth in law-governed countries like the U.S. where the wealth is safer than it would be in Russia.

As part of his retaliation against the U.S. for passing the Magnitsky Act, Putin banned the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans. That is what is being referred to when a Trump claims to have been merely talking with a Russian about “adoption.” Putin wants the Magnitsky Act repealed or weakened so that he can regain access to a large chunk of his wealth.

Natalia Veselnitskaya’s client, Prevezon Holdings was accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of laundering millions of dollars in New York real estate, using money from a $230 million Russian tax fraud scheme. If that number sounds familiar, it is because it is the amount that Browder alleges that he had paid in taxes to the Russian government but which had instead been misappropriated by the Kremlin. Browder was the one who had tipped off the U.S. Department of Justice that Prevezon had laundered the money.

The situation appears to be that Browder’s $230 million in taxes was received by the Russian government, who then denied that he had paid them. The Kremlin proceeded to launder the money to legitimize it/make it usable, and one of the parties through whom the money was laundered was Prevezon Holdings. Another interpretation is that Browder had never actually paid the taxes, but had instead used one of his many overseas tax shelters to hide the money.

In the New York case, Prevezon settled out of court for $5.9 million without admitting guilt, leading one to believe that the first interpretation above is closer to the truth.

During Fusion’s research for the Prevezon case, information about Browder’s financial dealings raised questions in the mind of Fusion founder Glenn Simpson, and Browder was notably difficult to obtain testimony from: he ran when attempts were made to serve him with a subpoena to testify. This bizarre response would seem to indicate guilt on the part of the man who had tipped off the DOJ about Prevezon, until one realizes that Browder had very good reason to believe that Putin had put a price on his head: under such circumstances, running in response to two strange men approaching him in a parking lot seems entirely appropriate and reasonable. Assassination attempts had been made on prominent Magnitsky Act advocates as well as on Browder’s own mother.

Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya apparently believed that some of Fusion’s information about Browder and his associates could be useful as a stepping stone to improving her own standing in Russia. The information on Browder could be used in the U.S. to raise questions about the legitimacy of the Magnitsky Act’s founder, and possibly result in the repeal of the Act, which would bring Veselnitskaya into high esteem with the Kremlin.

Seeing this opportunity, Veselnitskaya reported the information to Russia’s Prosecutor General, Yuri Chaika, in October of 2015. On February 18, 2016, Veselnitskaya registered what appears to be a fake NGO, the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation (HRAGI), for the purpose of lobbying the U.S. Congress “on behalf of Russian orphans.”

On June 9, 2016, the  now infamous “Trump Tower meeting” took place. Veselnitskaya and an interpreter, along with a couple of other Russians, met with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner at Trump Tower to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton and to discuss “Russian adoptions.” The “dirt” on Hillary Clinton that Veselnitskaya appears to have offered was that the New York billionaire Ziff brothers – who were major Democratic donors – had invested with Browder. If the Ziff brothers had donated to the Clinton Campaign, Veselnitskaya reasoned, their donations would be tainted and possibly illegal because Browder had cheated the Russian government out of $230 million in taxes.

The part of this whole narrative that again seems highly coincidental is the relationship between Veselnitskaya and Fusion GPS. Veselnitskaya appears to have had only a handful of direct interactions with Fusion’s Glenn Simpson: most of the communication seems to have been indirectly through Baker Hostetler. But on the morning of June 9, 2016 – right before the Trump Tower meeting – Veselnitskaya and Simpson were in court together for a hearing related to the Prevezon case.

Simpson testified that Veselnitskaya’s English is very limited, as is his Russian, so they did little more than exchange pleasantries.

Simpson also testified that on June 10, 2016 – the day after the Trump Tower meeting – he had attended a Washington DC dinner held by Baker Hostetler attorney Mark Cymrot for people working on the Prevezon case. Again, Veselnitskaya was in attendance, but according to Simpson, she was sitting at the other end of the table from him and his wife.

In his testimonies before the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judicial Committee, Glenn Simpson comes across as straightforward, extremely forthcoming, and highly credible. Yet the fact that he – the man who was paid by the Clinton Campaign’s law firm to investigate Donald Trump – also happened to know Natalia Veselnitskaya , and was even physically in the same room with her hours before the Trump Tower meeting (where she presented information gathered by Fusion GPS for the Prevezon case) and was again in the same room with her the evening afterward seems staggeringly coincidental.

We on the left can be blindly partisan and simply accept all that we are being told about Trump-Russia. After all, a wealth of evidence points to the possibility that Trump knowingly or unknowingly helped Russian oligarchs and mafia figures launder money via his real estate empire for decades – a felony – and that Vladimir Putin is holding knowledge of this activity over Trump’s head. A U.S. President being blackmailed in such a manner by a hostile foreign power is a profound danger to the security of our nation.

However, when we come across inconsistencies and bizarre coincidences like the Bruce and Nellie Ohr issue or the Veselnitskaya/Fusion GPS issue, we also owe it to ourselves, if we have any genuine loyalty to the truth, to stop and take a serious look. What could explain these connections? Are we really just seeing shocking coincidences, or something more?

The most reasonable explanations that I can find are as follows:

Bruce and Nellie Ohr:

  • Nellie Ohr was hired by Fusion to comb through Russian newspapers and other public record Russian documents for information about Trump because she was fluent in Russian.
  • Nellie Ohr did not know of Christopher Steele’s involvement with Fusion, nor did Steele know of hers,  because it was Simpson’s practice not to let his employees know who Fusion’s contractors were (and vice versa) unless absolutely necessary. This was done to avoid tainting information gathered from different sources. If two sources found differing information on a particular point, that could be helpful to narrow in on that point as a place where more questions needed to be asked to get an accurate picture.
  • Nellie Ohr did not tell her husband Bruce what she was working on for Fusion because she was under a confidentiality agreement, and as a professional, she took that agreement seriously.
  • The information that Steele was uncovering was not shared with any Fusion employees other than Simpson. Nellie Ohr was unaware of the content (or possibly even the existence) of Steele’s memos. Therefore there was no reason for Nellie Ohr to feel the need to tell her husband about her work: the information that she was uncovering was far less dramatic.
  • Nellie Ohr never told Glenn Simpson that her husband was a Department of Justice official because it was not relevant to her job at Fusion, and because DOJ and other high level law enforcement officials generally do not like their identities to be widely known, for security reasons.
  • Still inexplicable:
    • The coincidence that Nellie Ohr’s husband happened to be Steele’s contact in the U.S. Department of Justice.
    • The coincidence that Bruce Ohr didn’t put two and two together to then ask his wife more about the research work that she was doing at Fusion.

 

Veselnitskaya/Fusion GPS:

  • Veselnitskaya probably had no idea that she would discover something about Putin’s public enemy #1, Wililiam Browder, when she was first hired by Prevezon Holdings: Prevezon was simply another legal case to her.
  • She engaged Baker Hostetler to help with the case because of her poor English, likely unfamiliarity with the intricacies of U.S. law, and the need for her client to have quality representation in a U.S. court.
  • Baker Hostetler hired Fusion to do investigative research for the Prevezon case, because money laundering cases are complicated and require a level of quality research that needed to be outsourced.
  • When Browder’s name turned up in Fusion’s research, Veselnitskaya recognized the name (Browder is famously vilified in Russia – there are even movies about him) and saw an opportunity for herself. From then on, for her the Prevezon case became partially a case for her client, but also a means to collect information that she could use to curry favor with the Kremlin.
  • Simpson was unaware of how Veselnitskaya was using his research.
  • Simpson was handling the case for Baker Hostetler in the same way that he would for any other client: doing research, analyzing it and passing it to his client, Baker Hostetler.
  • Veselnitskaya’s visa to enter the U.S. had been previously revoked, but she was able to get into the U.S. because she was the primary attorney for a case that was being tried in a U.S. court. That is why the Trump Tower meeting had to be scheduled for the same day that she was in court for the Prevezon case.
  • Simpson was in the same courtroom as her that day because, as a researcher for the Prevezon case, he had the greatest wealth of detailed knowledge to reinforce Prevezon’s position.
  • Veselnitskaya and Simpson were at the same Washington DC party the next evening because they had both been important parts of the Prevezon case.
  • While Fusion GPS has a central role in both the Trump Tower meeting and the Steele dossier, and there was even a brief overlap in the timeframes of the Prevezon project and the Trump project, there was no bleed-over between the two projects within Fusion GPS itself: Simpson kept all of Fusion’s projects separate to avoid information from one project contaminating another.
  • Still inexplicable:
    • The coincidence that the Trump Tower meeting involved people and information connected to the same tiny research firm that had later been hired by the Clinton Campaign’s law firm to investigate Donald Trump.

While it is sane and reasonable to dismiss the wild conspiracy theories coming out of the extreme right in their efforts to defend an indefensible President, it is also important to look at factual inconsistencies in the narrative that many Americans believe to be true. While the issue of Bruce and Nellie Ohr and the connection of Fusion GPS to Natalia Veselnitskaya can be explained, they require acceptance of an uncomfortable amount of coincidence.

– rob rünt

The Trump-Russia Web – Part 7: Natalia Veselnitskaya

The Trump-Russia Web – Part 7: Natalia Veselnitskaya

Natalia Veselnitskaya’s Talking Points for Trump Tower – June 9, 2016

(Full Text of Veselnitskaya’s Talking Points)


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Natalia Veselnitskaya (Photo: Newsweek)

The information that Veselnitskaya gave to U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) when he was visiting Moscow in April 2016 – pages 6-7 of the attached document – provide a good summary of Veselnitskaya’s talking points.


Analysis

Veselnitskaya’s talking points appear to argue for repealing the Magnitsky Act by discrediting William Browder and Sergei Magnitsky and using the manipulative angle of wanting to help Russian orphans (American adoption of whom Putin banned in retaliation for the U.S passage of the Magnitsky Act). Veselnitskaya attempts to stir hostility toward Browder by raising the claim that Browder defrauded both the U.S. and Russian government out of millions of dollars in taxes.

To make her talking point about Browder seem relevant to the Trump Campaign, Veselnitskaya points out that the New York billionaire Ziff brothers – major Democratic donors – had invested with Browder, and that if they donated to the Clinton Campaign, their donations would be tainted and possibly illegal.

Whatever the factual basis for Veselnitskaya’s claims, it is clear that she is using the information in a distorted and slanted way to push repeal of the Magnitsky Act – a U.S. law that has frozen the U.S. assets of many wealthy Russians, including Vladmir Putin. As a Russian citizen, Veselnitskaya would certainly gain favor with Putin if her efforts were successful.

I personally believe that the truth of the Magnitsky story is somewhere between Browder’s account and Veselnitskaya’s.

– rob rünt


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


 

 

The Trump-Russia Web – Part 1: Introduction

The Trump-Russia Web – Part 1: Introduction

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