A week ago, Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson used a New York Times op-ed to demand that the Senate Judiciary Committee release his testimony. This drew a snarky reply from Chuck Grassley. There has been bickering back and forth with Grassley refusing to release the testimony. Today Dianne Feinstein did. Let me say at this point that I don’t consider this to be some major act of mutiny. Grassley had dug in. At some point everyone realized that not releasing the testimony was a distraction, and Feinstein was allowed to release it so Grassley didn’t have to. I’m drawing that conclusion from the lack celebratory dancing by Feinstein and the lack of complaint by the GOP.
The transcript is 312 pages in Adobe PDF format and here’s the link to it. (Don’t be scared, it has big margins and it is double-spaced.)
I haven’t read it in toto yet. So I’m going to rely on some tweets along with my observations.
It isn’t very transparent. Often even when you know the names they are redacted. I think the only names left in the transcript are Steele and a couple of other well-know figures who couldn’t be disguised.
At the demand of Fusion GPS, @SenFeinstein put Fusion GPS's testimony on her website. In the interest of transparency. While redacting the names of Fusion's partners. Amazing. pic.twitter.com/Iergk8c9Bc
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) January 9, 2018
This is the big item you’ll read:
NEW: FBI had a "walk-in" whistleblower from the Trump campaign, Glenn Simpson testified https://t.co/dHptztEXQO
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) January 9, 2018
Here he gets it wrong, Simpson actually says “organization or campaign” and specifies he doesn’t know which but it is apparently less than that:
A source close to Fusion GPS tells me there was no walk-in source — that was a mischaracterization by Simpson of the Australian diplomat tip about Papadopoulis.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) January 9, 2018
The testimony is self-serving as one might expect. Simpson portrays Steele as a man tormented by the possibility that Trump was being blackmailed and unilaterally contacted the FBI because it was the right thing to do, dammit. Believe it or not.
#FusionGPS Transcript contradicts GOP argument #SteeleDossier was a political document. First, Steele went to FBI himself concerned Trump being blackmailed, fearing “national security threat” said Simpson 1/
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) January 9, 2018
This is also interesting:
This is a really interesting part of the Fusion GPS transcript where Glenn Simpson can't, for several pages, rule out having tried to get government investigations started on behalf of clients. pic.twitter.com/hyLcyyzIxa
— Sarah Westwood (@sarahcwestwood) January 9, 2018
Over several pages Simpson refuses to ever really answer the question if his compensation had ever depended upon getting someone subjected to a criminal investigation.
Some stuff asks more questions than it answers
Fusion GPS reps appear to have been aware of N. Veselnitskaya's visa troubles, had contact with her both before and after the infamous Trump Tower meeting, but had no knowledge of that meeting. https://t.co/Dm6LNR5pRC pic.twitter.com/vVq1Ltt8Cm
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) January 9, 2018
Looks like Fusion GPS had a professional relationship at one point with N. Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin cutout who lobbied Kusher, Manafort, and DJT Jr. to ditch the Magnitsky Act in June 2016. https://t.co/Dm6LNR5pRC pic.twitter.com/8jEPQBJEXh
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) January 9, 2018
Fusion GPS lawyer confirms on the record (to NYT) what we already knew: that Glenn Simpson was w/ Natalia Veselnitskaya on morning of Trump Tower meeting. But Natalia denied that in testimony submitted to Senate. https://t.co/0B9tSF8xDJ pic.twitter.com/wFADrFDLHT
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) January 9, 2018
I don’t believe in leprechauns. And I don’t believe a long-time Fusion GPS associate, with visa problems, was able to meet with Simpson before and after meeting with Trump, Jr., and not mention to him who she had met with. This and the “maybe we do get people investigated” testimony earlier leaves me more convinced that whatever Steele did or didn’t find that Fusion GPS was playing their own game.
And there are laughs availiable:
Fusion GPS: Steele stopped dealing with FBI just before 2016 election, worried FBI "was being manipulated" by 'Trump people' pic.twitter.com/sE0ngJSkeo
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) January 9, 2018
Oveall, from the 100 or so pages I’ve scanned and the Twitter commentary, I don’t see anything terribly interesting here. But the way things have worked this past year, there may be a landmine in there just waiting to explode.