Key Figure In Russia Collusion Probe Takes the Fifth to Avoid Testifying

Glenn R. Simpson, co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, arrives for a scheduled appearance before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Yesterday, the guy at ground zero of the entire Russia collusion mess took the Fifth in response to a subpoena by the House Judiciary Committee.

Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of FusionGPS, the company hired by a cutout contract from the Hillary Clinton campaign to develop oppo research on Donald Trump, had been ordered to appear for a private deposition. His attorney said he would exercise his right against self-incrimination.

Simpson seems to be a critical figure in this whole saga.

Simpson hired Christopher Steele to develop the Trump, or Steele, Dossier. Steele, if you recall, worked through unidentified paid intermediaries inside Russia to interview an amazing array of current and former Russian intelligence operatives. This is the cast of characters that I compiled in an earlier post:

Source A: senior Russian Foreign Ministry official

Source B: former top-level Russian intel officer still active in the Kremlin.

Source C: senior Russian financial official.

Source D: close associate of Trump who managed his trips to Russia

Source E: seems to be someone in the Trump organization

Source F: Female staffer at Moscow Ritz Carlton

Source G: senior Kremlin official

Former senior intelligence officer

Senior Russian government figure

Russian IT specialist

IT operator inside Russian State Owned Enterprise

FSB cyber operative

Source E: Ethnic Russian close associate of Trump.

Russian source close to Rosneft President Igor Sechin.

Official close to Presidential Administration Head S. Ivanov.

Russian émigré figure close to Trump campaign team

Two well-placed and established Kremlin sources

Source close to Ivanov

Source close to Dimitri Medvedev

Close colleague of Ivanov

Kremlin official involved in US relations

Ethnic associate of Trump

Friend of Kremlin insider

Well-placed Russian figure

Compatriot of senior member of Russian Presidential Administration

Compatriot of top-level Russian government official

Compatriot of two well-placed sources, one business/political elite and one in services/tourism

Compatriot of senior Russian leadership figure and Foreign Ministry official

Compatriot of Igor Sechin

Simpson hired Nellie Ohr, wife of a senior Justice official, Bruce Ohr, to work on the project.

Simpson arranged for Steele to brief a fairly large and influential group of US journalists to get the allegations into play. Those news stories, as we’ve seen, were used by the FBI to bolster the case for a FISA warrant directed at Carter Page.

Simpson passed the dossier to a the cut-out law firm who’d hired them, Perkins Coie. A top lawyer from Perkins Coie met with and gave the dossier to FBI general counsel James Baker.

Simpson passed the dossier to Bruce Ohr and continued to meet with Ohr even after Trump’s election.

Curiously, Simpson also employed two of the Russians who met with Donald Trump, Jr. and others at Trump Tower. The role of Rinat Akhmetshin, a former KGB goon, and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer with close Kremlin connections, was to lobby to have sanctions removed from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. In fact, Simpson met with Veselnitskaya both before and after the Trump Tower meeting.

In the words of a senior Army Criminal Investigation Command officer I knew, pleading the Fifth doesn’t mean he’s guilty. It just means he did it.

If we get a replacement for Jeff Sessions who is as interested in rooting out the people involved in this attempted soft-coup against an legitimately elected president as he is in criminalizing marijuana and confiscating the property of innocent Americans, maybe we can get to the bottom of this mess.