Fusion GPS Confusion and a Dossier Doozy
Recent days have seen some startling developments in regards to the so-called “Steele dossier” from Fusion GPS. (We might as well stop referring to it as the “Trump Dossier. ” After all, it doesn’t seem at this point to have much to do with Donald Trump.)
To refresh: Hillary Clinton’s campaign gave Fusion GPS millions of dollars to help trash Donald Trump. Fusion GPS hired former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele to put together a dossier on Trump’s alleged Russian connections. “Dossier” is a French word that, in this case means “salacious and unverified.” Steele collated a bunch of tidbits and tales from Russian sources and Putin agents. At some point, this Hillary Clinton work product ended up in the hands of the FBI. And that’s where the tale takes an ominous turn.
Sneezy Dianne Feinstein
But before we get into the gritty, a quick get-well shout out to California’s longtime Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. She’s got a bad cold. Or at least that’s what she’s saying to explain why she ignored an agreement with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley not to release testimony transcripts and dumped on the world the full August testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
(Well, not full. Lots of names are redacted and supporting documents are absent.)
Sen. Feinstein was not at her finest Wednesday. She has released the transcript Tuesday. On Wednesday she said she had been “pressured” to release the transcript. “Pressured by who,” CNN asked. Then she denied being pressured. Then came her regret for releasing the transcript without consulting Sen. Grassley and blaming it on the stuffy sniffles.
Thursday, despite recordings to the contrary, Feinstein denied ever saying she was pressured. “I made no statement to that effect.”
Maybe someday we’ll learn the truth of what really went on. Did she release it to get ahead of more damning info on the dossier? Did she do it to obstruct others from coming forward out of fear their testimony would be released to the world? Did she do it to give upcoming friendly witnesses a head’s up on Simpson’s testimony to avoid contradictions?
Maybe she just sneezed and accidentally hit send. (Actually, given what happened Saturday in Hawaii, perhaps “I hit the wrong button” will be Monday’s excuse.)
Slippery Glenn Simpson
So what did Simpson have to say? Molly Hemingway at The Federalist lists “10 Takeaways from Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS Senate Testimony.” The Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross has 7 Revelations. Great stuff, but we can simplify:
- Simpson’s testimony wasn’t under oath.
- Simpson did not independently verify any of the claims made by Steele in the dossier.
- Simpson merely accepted Steele’s word: “Chris, as I say, has a sterling reputation as a person who doesn’t exaggerate, doesn’t make things up, doesn’t sell baloney.” (Guess he never heard of the Russian proverb “Trust, but Verify.”)
- And on the subject of baloney: Simpson acknowledged meeting Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya right before her June meeting with Don Jr. at Trump Tower and right after, and meeting again the day after, but denies it had anything to do with the Trump meeting. Didn’t even come up. (Even though all the Russians in the room had connections to Fusion GPS. Even though he was investigating Trump-Russia ties and there was Trump the Younger meeting with Russians.)
- Simpson’s lawyer claimed somebody had already been killed as a result of the dossier’s release. (Seems you can’t have Hillary Clinton involved without somebody winding up dead.)
What Simpson didn’t say was that his client was Hillary Clinton and the DNC. He also did not mention he had hired Nellie Ohr — the wife of a top DOJ official — to work on the project. It’s a family affair. Even his own wife Mary B. Jacoby — who, according to Conservative Treehouse has a history of Russia and Trump reporting — just happened to visit the White House right as Fusion GPS was beginning its Russia effort.
The Steele Trap
So Fusion GPS didn’t independently verify any of the information Steele gave them. Certainly Steele did, right? Well …
Reading the dossier, you’d think Steele had Trump nailed down cold. As Andrew McCarthy reported, “Steele asserted the Trump campaign was engaged in a corrupt scheme with the Putin regime. … that the Trump campaign was actively complicit in Russian hacking of the Democrats.” And that the Russians had set Trump up for blackmail via hotel antics with Russian hookers.
However, when push came to shove, Steele admitted he had nothing nailed down. Or glued. Or taped down. Or weighed down by copies of What Happened. When Steele was sued for libel over the dossier and had to give a deposition under oath, he backpedaled fast. Rowan Scarborough details the backpedaling here. Suddenly the information wasn’t of “huge significance.” It was merely “raw intelligence.” It was “unverified.” Steele just passed it along to the government for them to verify.
McCarthy has an excellent new rundown of how Steele and Simpson used “smoke and mirrors” to sell their Trump Russia narrative.
As Scarborough notes, Steele boasted to Mother Jones that he had ignited the Mueller investigation by convincing FBI agents in 2016 about the credibility of the dossier.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation … or Federal Bureau of Running With Whatever is Given Us
So Fusion GPS didn’t verify the information. Christopher Steele didn’t verify the information. Surely, the Federal Bureau of Investigation verified the information. No. The closest they got was a head’s up from an Australian diplomat, who got a mouthful from low-level short-term Trump campaign adviser George Padaopoulos during a night of “heavy drinking.” Even today there’s no there there. Byron York reported in November that FBI and DOJ officials told congressional investigators that after nearly 18 months of looking “they have not been able to verify or corroborate the substantive allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign outlined in the Trump dossier.”
So last summer this Steele dossier was sitting at the FBI: Hillary Clinton opposition research. “Salacious and unverified,” James Comey called it.
You’d think the FBI and Obama DOJ would dismiss it, or perhaps keep it around for some light bathroom reading. Instead, they weaponized it.
On Wednesday, Sara Carter confirmed what had long been suspected. The dossier was sold to a FISA court as viable intelligence and used to obtain a FISA warrant for surveillance on Trump campaign figures.
The Dossiers’ Dirty Use
Multiple sources confirmed to Carter “that the dossier was used along with other evidence to obtain the warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as FISC. The sources also stressed that there will be more information in the coming week regarding systemic ‘FISA abuse.'”
What this means, in short: Hillary Clinton oppo research was used by Obama Justice Department to justify spying on the Trump campaign.
So who at the DOJ would be responsible for presenting info to the FISA court? That would be DOJ’s National Security Division. Turns out the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz wanted to have oversight of that division. In 2015, Sally Yates rejected his request. (Yates would go on to became a darling of the Left when she disobeyed Trump’s orders on the original travel ban.)
But IG Horowitz is set to get the last laugh. His year-long investigation into the various FBI/DOJ antics to protect Hillary Clinton and sabotage Donald Trump is expected to conclude any time now. And it’s just the beginning.
First, intel agencies werent supposed to surveil US citizens. But they did. Then they werent supposed to "store" it. But they did. Then they werent supposed to search it. But they did. Then they werent supposed to "unmask" it. But they did. Then they werent supposed to leak it…
— Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) January 11, 2018