***This is part 1 of 3. I’m half way through the testimony. It is very long. readers only need apply***
Following is large-block excerpts from the Fusion GPS testimony given by Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS to the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017. I prefer to take very large samples of the testimony because I believe context is extremely important in this testimony. If you are like me, you like to read everything first-hand and prefer raw data to a third party’s “take” on information. If you are not like me, you don’t have time to read all of the testimony in the current legal format in which it resides. I have cut and pasted these excerpts from that data removing line-numberings and headers and footers so that it is easier to read. You may find gremlins from the original formatting here and there. Sorry…and toughy woughy.
Unlike public, full congressional committee interviews, this isn’t 5 minutes to each committee member trying to cram in as many questions as they can; this testimony is under the direction of the committee’s representative lawyers, GOP and Democrat, asking questions at great length and with wide ranging parameters. The entire process was cordial, very open and agreeable to all parties judging from the text. The questions are those of lawyers trying to nudge along the exact answers they desire.
Exactly like the committee-wide type of interrogations, the answers each party’s side are seeking, could not be any more different. The GOP lawyers are not interested in discovering anything about the “dossier,” it’s sources, how it came to be, it’s legitimacy or any of that (so far). The GOP lawyers are exclusively interested in how Fusion GPS conducts business, what it’s set-up is, how it is paid and how it pays others. Of particular import to them is Fusion GPS’s involvement in Baker Hostetler, Prevezon holdings, and to an extent Browder and the whole “smear” campaign against Browder and by extension the Magnitsky act. Due to this fact, I see very little from the GOP side, at this time, that I care to cut and paste.
To talk about this here would be really getting in the weeds but let me say, I said a long time ago the GOP would be getting into the weeds if they walk too far down this path.
“Natalia Veselnitskaya, had hired Fusion GPS, before Perkins Coie, the legal firm Clinton used. Veselnitskaya hired Fusions GPS to assist her in lobbying to overturn the Magnitsky Act in congress.
Now what do you think the chances are that Fusion GPS didn’t just hire Steele to compile the dossier, what if they also were the ones that directed him to the exact people he needed to talk to gather inside information on Trump?
I’m just guessing here, but that’s starting to look like a possibility. The other thing about opening up the books on Fusion GPS isn’t just the Russian thing, it’s untold information…people and organizations we don’t even know about yet, people that Congress might not be particularly keen on looking into. Who knows? We don’t know what we don’t know : )”
How mixed up does all this get when you start really examining it? Here’s page 133-134 first from Glenn Simpson’s Testimony:
Q. So you had dinner the 8th, saw her in court on the 9th; is that correct?
Q. And dinner again on the 10th?
A. In D.C.
Q. Did you see her any other time?
A. Not that I recall.
Q. Did Fusion play any role assisting Ms. Veselnitskaya during that trip?
A. Not that I recall.
Q. It has widely been reported Ms. Veselnitskaya and Mr. Akhmetshin and others met with Donald Trump, Junior, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner on June 9th, 2016. Were you aware of this meeting beforehand?
Q. It didn’t come up at the dinner the night before?
Q. When did you first become aware of the meeting?
A. Around the time it broke in the New York Times. I was stunned.
Q. Is it correct that that means it wasn’t discussed at the dinner on the 10th?
A. No, but, again, you know, the dinner on the 10th was I was at one end of the table talking to a woman about her biography on Simon Bolivar and she was at the other end with Rinat and she doesn’t really speak much English. So, you know, fortunately I was not going to do a lot of entertaining.
The Republican’s avoided digging any further into this.
Simpson is very agreeable to both sides. He gives answers of great detail and often offers way more information than is even being requested. The only instances in which he will refuse to answer, is any question regarding customers or confidential, non-public sources.
It is really important to get a feel for his testimony and understand everything in context. The one or two sentence quotes from the transcripts you may have seen so far, really don’t do the whole proceeding justice. I have edited at points just to allow Simpson to talk at length sans any interrupting questions or exposition from the lawyers.
Q. And why did you engage Mr. Steele in May or June of 2016?
A. That calls for a somewhat long answer. We had done an enormous amount of work on Donald Trump generally at this point in the project and we began to drill down on specific areas. He was not the only subcontractor that we engaged. Other parts of the world required other people. For example, we were interested in the fact that the Trump family was selling merchandise under the Trump brand in the United States that was made in sweat shops in Asia and South America — or Latin America. So we needed someone else for that. So there were other things. We were not totally focused on Russia at that time, but we were at a point where we were — you know, we’d done a lot of reading and research and we were drilling down on specific areas. Scotland was another one. So that’s the answer.
What happens when you get to this point in an investigation when you’ve gathered all of the public record information and you’ve begun to exhaust your open source, you know, resources is that you tend to find specialists who can take you further into a subject and I had known Chris since I left the Wall Street Journal. He was the lead Russianist at MI6 prior to leaving the government and an extremely well-regarded investigator, researcher, and, as I say, we’re friends and share interest in Russian kleptocracy and organized crime issues. I would say that’s broadly why I asked him to see what he could find out about Donald Trump’s business activities in Russia.
Q. So in May or June 2016 you hired Christopher Steele to, as you’ve just indicated, find out what he could about Donald Trump’s business activities in Russia. Did something in particular trigger that assignment?
A. No, I don’t think I could point to something in particular as a trigger. I mean, the basis for the request was he had made a number of trips to Russia and talked about doing a number of business deals but never did one, and that struck me as a little bit odd and calling for an explanation. You know, in the background of all international business is questions about corruption. The Trump organization had branched out all over the world in like the four to eight years prior to 2016. So in any kind of investigation you would naturally want to know whether there was some issue with improper business relationships. I’ll just stress that we weren’t looking for — at least it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind there was going to be anything involving the Russian government per se, at least not that I recall.
Q. And specific to the engagement with regard to the research on Candidate Trump, why did you specifically ask Mr. Steele to do that work?
A. The way our firm runs we pursue things, you know, somewhat out of curiosity. So we didn’t know — it was opaque what Donald Trump had been doing on these business trips to Russia. We didn’t know what he was doing there. So I gave Chris —we gave Chris a sort of assignment that would be typical for us which was pretty open ended. We said see if you can find out what Donald Trump’s been doing on these trips to Russia. Since Chris and I worked together over the years there’s a lot that didn’t need to be said. That would include who is he doing business with, which hotels does he like to stay at, you know, did anyone ever offer him anything, you know, the standard sort of things you would look at. I don’t think I gave him any specific instructions beyond the general find out what he was up to.
Q. And was anyone else — did you engage anyone else to do that particular research?
A. Yes. So we had other people like Ed Baumgartner who, you know, by this time — I guess Prevezon was still winding down, but who would do Russian language research which didn‘t involve going to Russia. It just involves reading Russian newspaper accounts and that sort of thing.
Q. So was Mr. Baumgartner also working on opposition research for Candidate Trump?
A. At some point, I think probably after the end of the Prevezon case we asked him to help with I think –– my specific recollection is he worked on specific issues involving Paul Manafort and Ukraine.
Q. With regard to the presidential election of 2016?
Q. So to the extent you can describe, when you say he was doing something you could not do and that was he was arranging to talk to people, can you describe who it was he was reaching out to, what you knew about that?
A. I don’t think for security reasons, among other things, it’s an area I’m not going to be able to go into in terms of sources and things like that. I think speaking broadly, you know, there’s a large diaspora of Russians around the world and people in Moscow that, you know, are talking to each other all the time. The thing that people forget about what was going on in June of 2016 was that no one was really focused on sort of this question of whether Donald Trump had a relationship with the Kremlin. So, you know, when Chris started asking around in Moscow about this the information was sitting there. It wasn’t a giant secret. People were talking about it freely.
It was only, you know, later that it became a subject of great controversy and people clammed up, and at that time the whole issue of the hacking was also, you know, not really focused on Russia. So these things eventually converged into, you know, a major issue, but at the time it wasn’t one.
Q. And you had talked a bit about prior work and Mr. Steele’s performance in prior work and being satisfied by that work. Did you do anything to kind of test and make sure that information he was giving you was accurate?
A. So in the sort of — I know I’m repeating myself, but generally we do public records work. So we deal in documents and things that are very hard and that are useful in court or, you know, other kinds of proceedings. Chris deals in a very different kind of information, which is human intelligence, human information. So by its very nature the question of whether something is accurate isn’t really asked. The question that is asked generally is whether it‘s credible. Human intelligence isn’t good for, you know, filing lawsuits. It’s good for making decisions and trying to understand what’s going on and that’s a really valuable thing, but it’s not the same thing.
Page 144-147 excerpts in regards to the “Dossier”
So when this arrived it was also right around the time I think — Trump had said weird things about the Russians and Putin and things that are very atypical for a Republican and that people found to be odd. So when this arrived, you know, we made no immediate use of it at all in terms of, you know, giving it to anybody. It was essentially used to inform our other researcher, but because it was — and because it was human source intelligence and some of it was of a personal nature, it was not particularly useful for the kind of things that are, you know, useful in politics, which are things that you can prove, things that you can say, things that people will believe. So we used it as intelligence to try and understand what was going on and, you know, obviously, as we talked about earlier, we tried to analyze this to see if it was credible.
Correct. To be totally clear, you know, what people call the dossier is not really a dossier. It’s a collection of field memoranda, of field interviews, a collection that accumulates over a period of months. You know, they came in intermittently, there was no schedule. You know, he‘d reach a point in the reporting where he had enough to send a new memo; so he’d send one. So you won’t find any real rhythm or chronological sort of system to the way they came in.
Anyway, so this was unusual in what we were doing here and it’s not what I had in mind when I asked him to begin collecting information on this. My expectation was of something a lot less interesting than this, more along the lines of a typical corruption investigation.
I mean, this is basically about a month later and there’s a lot of events that occurred in between. You know, after the first memo, you know, Chris said he was very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat and said he wanted to — he said he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government, in our government about this information. He thought from his perspective there was an issue — a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed. From my perspective there was a law enforcement issue about whether there was an illegal conspiracy to violate the campaign laws, and then somewhere in this time the whole issue of hacking has also surfaced.
So he proposed to — he said we should tell the FBI, it’s a national security issue. I didn’t originally agree or disagree, I just put it off and said I needed to think about it. Then he raised it again with me. I don’t remember the exact sequence of these events, but my recollection is that I questioned how we would do that because I don’t know anyone there that I could report something like this to and be believed and I didn’t really think it was necessarily appropriate for me to do that. In any event, he said don’t worry about that, I know the perfect person, I have a contact there, they’ll listen to me, they know who I am, I’ll take care of it. I said okay. You know, I agreed, it’s potentially a crime in progress. So, you know, if we can do that in the most appropriate way, I said it was okay for him to do that.
Q. So after Mr. Steele had found out the information that he put in the very first of these memos, the one dated June 20, 2016, he approached you about taking this information to specifically the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
A. That’s my recollection.
Q. So to the best of your recollection, that request or idea came directly from Mr. Steele, not anyone else?
A. That’s right.
Q. And who was involved in discussions about whether it was appropriate to take either the memo or the information in the memo to the FBI?
A. It was Chris and me. I mean, that’s the only ones I remember, the two of us. The only ones I know of.
Q. You said you had asked for some time to think it over. What in particular did he articulate to you was of significant national security concern to indicate that it should be taken to the FBI?
A. His concern, which is something that counterintelligence people deal with a lot, is whether or not there was blackmail going on, whether a political candidate was being blackmailed or had been compromised. And the whole problem of compromise of western businessmen and politicians by the Russians is an essential part of — it’s like disinformation, it’s something they worry about a lot and deal with a lot and are trained to respond to. So, you know, a trained intelligence officer can spot disinformation that you or I might not recognize, certainly that was Chris’s skill, and he honed in on this issue of blackmail as being a significant national security issue. Chris is the professional and I’m not. So I didn’t agree with that — it wasn’t that I disagreed with it. It was that I didn’t feel qualified to be the arbitrar of whether this is a national security expert. He’s the pro and I’m the ex-journalist.