Kimberley Strassel: 'Buried in the IG Report is a Line that Poses an Enormous Question, Central to Everything'

Bruce Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Nellie Ohr (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

 

On Wednesday evening, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel noticed something peculiar in the IG report and posed a question via a twitter thread:

Buried in the IG report is a line that poses an enormous question, one that is central to everything, and really must be answered. Remember: According to all relevant players, prior to July of 2016, nobody had a Trump-Russia collusion narrative on their minds.

Indeed, the FBI says it was only the Downer tip-off at end-July that spurred the investigation. Downer for his part says it was public revelation in July of the DNC hack that caused him to finally wonder about collusion and connect his spring conversation with Papadopoulos.

Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson, meanwhile, in Senate testimony, “stress[ed]” he hired Steele in May to look at Trump’s “business activities” in Russia….By Simpson’s telling (under penalty of perjury), Steele just sort of stumbled on this much “broader” “political conspiracy.”

But here is what Steele told the IG: That in May 2016, Simpson approached Steele to “assist in determining Russia’s actions related to the 2016 election”; “whether Russia was trying to achieve a particular election outcome”; and…

“whether there were any ties between the Russian government and Trump and his campaign.” (Page 93) Seems Simpson had a pretty good bead on the “narrative” long before the govt. claims to have had it and before even his own source had reported it to him. Huh.

Let’s hope Attorney John Durham provides some answers on who exactly knew what in the spring of 2016.

The answer could be that Glenn Simpson and his wife, Mary Jacoby, wrote the script a long time ago.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) appeared on Fox News’  “Hannity” in the spring to discuss the origins of the Steele dossier. He said it should really be called the “Simpson” dossier. Although Christopher Steele likely contributed “stories” to the dossier, and his years of experience in British intelligence lent credence to the document, Nunes said he believed that Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson may actually have written the majority of it.

In his book “Spygate,” Fox News’ contributor and investigator Dan Bongino made the same case. He pointed out the striking similarities between articles Simpson and his wife wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2007 and 2008 and the Steele dossier.

The Tablet’s Lee Smith promoted this theory in a lengthy, but fascinating, December 2017 article, entitled “Did President Obama Read the ‘Steele Dossier’ in the White House Last August?

One of Simpson and Jacoby’s articles, entitled “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington,” was written on April 17, 2007. It discussed the growing trend of wealthy foreigners, Russians in particular, to hire influential Washington insiders as lobbyists, for help with legal troubles or simply to be introduced to the city’s rich and the powerful. Included in their list of American lobbyists and “fixers” is Paul Manafort.

Paul Manafort, a former adviser to Mr. Dole’s presidential campaign, has advised a Ukrainian metals billionaire and his close political ally, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. Mr. Yanukovich, who favors closer ties with Mr. Putin’s administration, is embroiled in a power struggle with pro-Western Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

In May 2008, they discovered that Paul Manafort was working as a consultant for John McCain’s presidential campaign. Manafort’s business partner, Rick Davis, who was also charged by Robert Mueller, was McCain’s campaign manager. They reported this in an article entitled “McCain Consultant Is Tied To Work for Ukraine Party</a>.” It began:

A consultant to Sen. John McCain [Manafort] hired a public-relations firm last year to burnish the U.S. image of a Ukrainian political party backed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.

Simpson and Jacoby wrote about Manafort’s lobbying firm, Davis Manafort, and it’s ties to Ukraine’s Party of Regions and mentioned that Putin campaigned for Yanukovich.

The pair cite a 2006 breakfast for journalists at the Willard Hotel at which Manafort appeared with the “pro-Kremlin” Yanukovich and wrote that Manafort was in his “entourage when Yanukovich spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

Also discussed are Davis Manafort’s connections to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

Smith points out that in March 2016, three things were happening. Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign. Glenn Simpson consulted with the Clinton campaign’s lawyer, Marc Elias, a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm, to see if they had any interest in continuing the opposition research project against Donald Trump which Fusion GPS had begun for the Washington Free Beacon. And Ukrainian American DNC consultant and activist Alexandra Chalupa was warning the Clinton campaign about Paul Manafort’s strong ties to Yanukovich. She later told CNN, “I flagged for the DNC the significance of his hire.”

At this time, Fusion GPS was working with a Putin-linked group, represented by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, to assist in their efforts to repeal the Magnitsky Act. (For a full description of what led to this Act, please read Marc Thiessen’s article here.)

Smith then makes the case that Simpson either wrote most of the dossier himself, or at least a good chunk of it.

Once you understand that Simpson knew exactly who Paul Manafort was, it’s impossible not to spot the former journalist’s creative wit sprinkled throughout the dossier, which uses the tantalizing figure of “PUTIN” to draw attention to corruption that Glenn Simpson knew was entirely real from his own reporting. “Ex-Ukrainian President YANUKOVYCH confides directly to PUTIN that he authorised (sic) kick-back payments to MANAFORT, as alleged in western media,” the dossier relates. “Assures Russian President however there is no documentary evidence/trail.”

It’s as if Simpson has hung a “Kick Me” sign on Manafort to encourage some prosecutor to find the “documentary evidence/trail” that did in fact exist. Sure enough, Special Counselor for the Russia investigations Robert Mueller found it. The October indictment charges Manafort with laundering millions that came from Yanukovich. Manafort’s relationship with Yanukovich was widely known inside Ukrainian political circles, as well as to Clinton campaign head John Podesta’s brother Tony Podesta, who worked directly for Manafort while he represented Yanukovich.

Simpson hired Christopher Steele in June 2016. According to Smith, Steele had been “identified as a British spy in 1999.” He had been chief of the “Russia desk when Russian assassins killed FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko in London and was hardly in a position to make discreet inquiries. Still, Simpson must have thought Steele’s name at a minimum would be useful in marketing whatever his firm pulled together. Reportedly, Steele had a good relationship with the FBI, and journalists love spies who spill secrets.”

Read the whole article here.

Elizabeth Vaughn
Writer at RedState
Former financial consultant, options trader
MBA, Mom of three grown children
Email Elizabeth at
Read more by Elizabeth Vaughn