Fusion GPS #2

****The first page of my transcription of the Fusion GPS testimony begins here. I have chosen to highlight primarily the Democratic lines of questioning as they focus on the Dossier and any knowledge of Russian interference in the election.  I have edited out the documents headers, footers, and line-numberings to reduce the testimony from a legal document to a more palatable, legible piece.****

 

page 162-164

Q. And with specific regard to the issue of blackmail, what was the — what were the facts that he had gathered that made him concerned about the possibility of blackmail and who did he think was going to be blackmailed?

A. Well, the facts are — beyond what’s here I don’t have any additional facts. The alleged incident that’s described here is the one that he was referring to. As I say, I don’t have really any additional information beyond this except that — I mean, it’s probably in here somewhere actually, but it’s well known in intelligence circles that the Russians have cameras in all the luxury hotel rooms and there are memoirs written about this by former Russian intelligence agents I could quote you. So the problem of kompromat and kompromating is just endemic to east-west intelligence work. So that’s what I’m referring to. That’s what he’s referring to.

Q. And do you recall when you — when you and Mr. Steele decided kind of that he could or should take this to the FBI, approximately the time frame of that?

A. I believe it was sometime around the turn of the month. It would have been in late June or at latest early July. That’s my recollection.

Q. And Mr. Steele was the one who was then responsible for doing the initial outreach to them and making that contact?

A. Yes. Well, I mean, let’s be clear, this was not considered by me to be part of the work that we were doing. This was — to me this was like, you know, you’re driving to work and you see something happen and you call 911, right. It wasn’t part of the — it wasn’t like we were trying to figure out who should do it. He said he was professionally obligated to do it. Like if you’re a lawyer and, you know, you find out about a crime, in a lot of countries you must report that. So it was like that. So I just said if that’s your obligation, then you should fulfill your obligation.

Page 166-167

Q. And do you know who it is that Mr. Steele contacted and talked with at the FBI?

A. I did not know at the time. I believe I know now, but I don’t have authoritative information on that. I didn’t — yeah. I didn’t know who it was in July.

Q. And do you now know who that was?

A. I think I know, but Chris never told me. I figured it out eventually based on other sources and other information, but that was not until December or November.

Q. December of — November or December 2016?

A. November, December 2016. It was after the election.

Q. And what is your understanding from what you’ve been able to put together of who that would have been?

A. My understanding of?

Q. Of who Mr. Steele would have talked to at the FBI.

A. I believe it was a <redacted> , an official named <redacted>.

Q. Did you seek anyone else’s approval for him to go to the FBI?

A. No.

Q. Did anyone ever encourage you to ask him on to go to the FBI?

A. No.

Q. Did anyone discourage you from having him go to the FBI?

A. No.

Page 174-177 (major reason why the GOP was stonewalling releasing these transcripts)

Q. And you said that meeting with the FBI, you said Mr. Steele said he had to go to Rome for this meeting. Do you otherwise know who he met with?

A. This gets into the chronology of what I learned when. At some point I learned that he was meeting with the lead FBI guy from Rome. I don’t remember when he told me that.

Q. And did you have a name associated with who that was?

A. Not at that time.

Q. You said that he told you of the meeting with the FBI in Rome in mid or late September, that he “gave them a full briefing”?

A. A debrief I think is what he probably said, they had debriefed him. I don’t remember him articulating the specifics of that. You know, my understanding was that they would have gotten into who his sources were, how he knew certain things, and, you know, other details based on their own intelligence. Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.

Q. And did you have any understanding then or now as to who that human intelligence source from inside the Trump campaign might have been?

MR. LEVY: He’s going to decline to answer that question.

MS. SAWYER: On what basis?

MR. SIMPSON: Security.

MR. LEVY: Security

Q. Was this individual also a person who had been a source for Mr. Steele, without identifying who that was?

A. No.

Q. So this was someone independent of Mr. Steele’s sources who potentially had information also on the same topics?

A. Yes. I mean, I don‘t think this implicates any of the issues to say I think it was a voluntary source, someone who was concerned about the same concerns we had.

MR. DAVIS: I’m having a hard time hearing you. Please speak up.

BY THE WITNESS: A. It was someone like us who decided to pick up the phone and report something.

Q. And your understanding of this, does that come from Mr. Steele or from a different source?

A. That comes from Chris, yes.

 

Page 178-179

Q. Now, with regard to — just to finish up on the interactions with FBI, do you know were there any additional interactions between Mr. Steele and the FBI?

A. There was some sort of interaction, I think it was probably telephonic that occurred after Director Comey sent his letter to Congress reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. That episode, you know, obviously created some concern that the FBI was intervening in a political campaign in contravention of long-standing Justice Department regulation.  So it made a lot of people, including us, concerned about what the heck was going on at the FBI. So, you know, we began getting questions from the press about, you know, whether they were also investigating Trump and, you know, we encouraged them to ask the FBI that question. You know, I think –– I‘m not sure we’ve covered this fully, but, you know, we just encouraged them to ask the FBI that question.  On October 31st the New York Times posed a story saying that the FBI is investigating Trump and found no connections to Russia and, you know, it was a real Halloween special.

Sometime thereafter the FBI — I understand Chris severed his relationship with the FBI out of concern that he didn’t know what was happening inside the FBI and there was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on. So he stopped dealing with them.

Page 217. We’re back to GOP lawyers again, so far they have not asked anything concerning the contents of the “Steele Dossier”.  Their only concern is with who is getting paid money by whom.  Or, how did the media get wind of a possible Russian/Trump conspiracy .  They keep trying to find an angle by which to lay some type of blame on Fusion GPS.

Q. Was the amount of Fusion’s compensation in the Trump investigation dependent on the FBI initiating an investigation of Mr. Trump or his associates?

A. No.

Q. Was the amount of Orbis’s compensation dependent on the FBI initiating an investigation of Mr. Trump and his associates?

A. No.

Q. Other than Senator McCain, who we’ll discuss later, did Fusion or Orbis disclose any of the memoranda information contained therein or related information from Mr. Steele with any elected officials or staff in Congress?

A. I don’t recall having done so, no

Page 225, I’m guessing this is the part the GOP is going to hang their hat on. Grassley supplied Simpson with the necessary answer:

Q. Do you know who paid for Mr. Steele’s trip to Rome to meet with the FBI?

A. I have read recently that — I think in a letter from Senator Grassley that the FBI reimbursed the expense, but to be clear, I mean, that’s it. He was, to my knowledge, not been compensated for that work or any other work during this time.

Page 240-242

Q. And with regard to Carter Page, did you reach any findings, conclusions about his business dealings, about him, about his connections in particular to, you know, Russia?

A. Yes.

Q. And can you share what those were?

A. Carter Page seemed to us to be a typical person who the Russians would attempt to co-opt or compromise or manipulate. He was on the younger side, a little bit — considered to be a striver who was ambitious and not terribly savvy, and those are the kind of people that the Russians tend to compromise. That was the general sense we had. He was also, you know, from early on described as somewhat eccentric.

when we talk about things in the dossier that are confirmed, this is one of the things that I think really stands out as notable, which is that Chris identified Carter Page as someone who had — seemed to be in the middle of the campaign, between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, and he later turned out to be an espionage suspect who was, in fact, someone that the FBI had been investigating for years.

Page 256-259 GOP lawyers do return to the Veselnitskaya connection momentarily.   trying to find a money connection.

Q. So in an August 1, 2017 news briefing White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “The Democrat linked firm Fusion GPS actually took money from the Russian government while it created the phoney dossier that’s been the basis for all of the Russia scandal fake news.” What is your response to that statement?

A. It’s not true?

Q. And what in particular is not true about it?

A. Well, it’s a false allegation leveled by William Browder before this committee and in other places for the purpose of his advantage. She’s repeating an allegation that was aired before this committee and in other places that we were working for the Russian government and it’s not true. Most importantly the allegation that we were working for the Russian government then or ever is simply not true. I don’t know what to say. It’s political rhetoric to call the dossier phoney. The memos are field reports of real interviews that Chris’s network conducted and there’s nothing phoney about it. We can argue about what’s prudent and what’s not, but it’s not a fabrication.

Q. And I think you’ve already answered you contend that you were not taking money from the Russian government and that was in relation to the litigation work you had done with Baker Hostetler, correct?

A. Yes. They are a well-regarded law firm that has obligations to determine the sources of funds when they take a client and, to my knowledge, they did so and the money was not coming from the Russian government.

Q. Did, to the best of your knowledge, Mr. Steele take money in any way, shape, or form that could be attributed to the Russian government for the work that he did on the memos as part of 20the opposition research on Candidate Trump?

A. No.  I’ll add one more thing to the response to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, which is her assertion that we are a Democrat linked opposition research firm. I think I addressed this earlier, but to be clear, we don’t have a business of — we’re not an appendage to the Democratic party. We run a commercial business, we’re all ex-journalists. We take clients from both sides of the aisle. We have a long history of that, I’m proud of that. I’m happy to say I have lots of Republican clients and friends.

Page 261-265  THEY HAVE THE MEETING NOTES OF PAUL MANAFORT FROM THE TRUMP TOWER MEETING WITH THE RUSSIANS! Hm.  This is extremely fishy.  This stinks to fucking high hell…and not because it doesn’t say what we all think it should say, but because the GOP lawyers just introduced something into evidence which has absolutely no relevance.  Totally something fishy going on here.

Q. I’m going to show you an exhibit. I think we‘re on 6. We understand these are meeting notes. Do these phrases about — including Mr. Browder mean anything to you or relate to any of the research that you conducted or otherwise aware of regarding Mr. Browder?

MR. LEVY: When say “meetings notes,” meeting notes about what meeting?

MR. DAVIS: These are the meeting notes from the June 9th meeting at Trump Tower. These are Mr. Manafort’s notes or they’re contemporaneous.

 A. I could tell — obviously you know who Bill Browder is. Cyprus Offshore, Bill Browder’s structure, you know, investment — Hermitage Capital, his hedge fund, set up numerous companies in Cyprus to engage in inward investment into Russia, which is a common structure, both partially for tax reasons but also to have entities outside of Russia, you know, managing specific investments. I can only tell you I assume that’s what that references. I don’t know what the 133 million —

MR. FOSTER: Can I interrupt? And you know that from research that you did and provided to —

MR. SIMPSON: Yes.

MR. LEVY: Let him finish.

MR. FOSTER: — research that you did and provided to Baker Hostetler and their client?

MR. SIMPSON: Yes. There was a — I can elaborate a little bit. As part of the research into how Hermitage Capital worked we looked at various things, their banking relationships, the way they structured their investments in Russia. I don’t remember how many, but there was a large number of shell companies in Cyprus that were used to hold the investments of individual clients of Hermitage. So one of the things we discovered from that was the likely identities of some of Hermitage’s clients.

BY MR. DAVIS: Q. Do any of the other entries in here mean anything to you in light of the research you’ve conducted or what you otherwise know about Mr. Browder?

A. I’m going to — I can only speculate about some of these things. I mean, sometimes —

MR. LEVY: Don’t speculate.

BY THE WITNESS: A. Just would be guesses.

Q. Okay.

A. I can skip down a couple. So “Value in Cyprus as inter,” I don’t know what that means. “Illici,” I don’t know what that means. “Active sponsors of RNC,” I don’t know what that means. “Browder hired Joanna Glover” is a mistaken reference to Juliana Glover, who was Dick Cheney’s press secretary during the Iraq war and associated with another foreign policy controversy. “Russian adoptions by American families” I assume is a reference to the adoption issue.

Q. And by “adoption issue” do you mean Russia prohibiting U.S. families from adopting Russian babies as a measure in response to the Magnitsky act?

A. I assume so.

Q. The information here, is this generally consistent with the type of information you or Baker Hostetler were providing about Mr. Browder and his activities?

MR. LEVY: Can you repeat that question.

MR. DAVIS: Is the information here, to the best you can decipher it, consistent with the information that you and Baker Hostetler and HRAGI were relaying to other parties about Mr. Browder’s activities?

MR. LEVY: He’s just told you that a lot of what’s here he doesn’t know what it means, he doesn’t have knowledge or recollection as to these terms.

MR. DAVIS: The parts you do recognize.

BY THE WITNESS: A. Couple of the items touch on things that I worked on, Cyprus, Bill Browder.

Q. I’m going to jump back to the Russiain vestigation. You’d mentioned before you’ve had some subcontractors that you’ve worked with long enough that you call them super subs; is that correct?

A. Yes.

*********************

this is very odd stuff.  It certainly looks like, for the second time in this interview, the GOP has introduced information into these proceedings that they want recorded in the testimony.  I’m going to have to do a part 3 tomorrow.  almost done.

 

https://100percenttrue.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/fusion-gps-3/

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