Fusion GPS #3

****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.****

 

All of this is GOP questions until page 290.

 

Page 271-273

 

Q. To the best of your knowledge, did Mr. Steele pay any of his sources or subsources in the memoranda for information?

A. I don’t know. I think there’s been a little bit of confusion I would like to clear up. Some people were saying that he was paying people for information. I don’t know whether he does or not, but that’s not basically how I understand field operations to work. You commission people to gather information for you rather than sort of paying someone for a document or to sit for an interview or something like that. That’s not how I understand it works.

Q. To make sure I understand, are you saying you don’t pay for particular information, you would have an established financial arrangement with someone?

A. If he did at all, but I did not ask and he did not share that information. He did not invoice me for any such.

Q. Did Mr. Steele ever discuss his opinion of Mr. Trump with you?

A. We didn’t discuss our political views of Mr. Trump, I don’t think, at least not that I specifically remember, if that’s what you mean.

Q. That is.  If I recall correctly, you said earlier that once Fusion had exhausted public documentary sources you turned to Mr. Steele and some other subcontractors for human intelligence; is that correct?

A. Yeah, field intelligence.

Q. Would your engagement with your client have ended had you not turned to human intelligence?

A. I have no idea. I mean, I can’t speculate.

Q. Well, to clarify, when say you had exhausted the public documentation, are you saying you reached the end of your work or was there still more?

A. No. It’s a broad project, there’s lots of things going on. We’re pulling legal filings and bankruptcies and all sorts of other stuff on all kinds of issues. I was talking about specific lines of inquiry.

Page 277

Q. You mentioned before, if I recall correctly, that Fusion was having issues with persons attempting to hack it?

A. That’s a current concern, yes.

Q. When did that concern — when did you first become aware of that concern?

A. Relatively recently.

Q. So after the election?

A. Yes.

Page 279

MR. FOSTER: Earlier you talked about evaluating the credibility of the information in the memoranda that you were being provided by Mr. Steele and, by way of summary, you talked about your belief that he was credible and that you had worked with him before and the information he had provided you had been reliable in the past. Did you take any steps to try to assess the credibility of his sources, his unnamed sources in the material that he was providing to you?

MR. SIMPSON: Yes, but I’m not going to get into sourcing information.

MR. FOSTER: So without getting into naming the sources or anything like that, what steps did you take to try to verify their credibility?

MR. SIMPSON: I’m going to decline to answer that.

MR. FOSTER: Why?

MR. LEVY: It’s a voluntary interview, and in addition to that he wants to be very careful to protect his sources. Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.

Page 284-285

Q. To the extent you can clarify, is it that there were two sets of clients, one of whom was Republican and one of which was a Clinton supporter, or was it one person’s whose views changed?

MR. LEVY: We’re not going to get into the identity of clients. As you know, we’ve agreed to an interview about questions 5  through 13 of the March 24 request. Questions 1 through 4 talk about the identities of the clients. The Chair and the Ranking Member agreed with counsel for Mr. Simpson about the scope of this interview and that question is outside of it. In addition, the answer to that question would implicate privilege and obligations. He‘s talked to you for nine hours, he’s given you a lot of information, and he’s not going to answer questions about identities of clients.

MR. DAVIS: You’ve asserted attorney-client work product privilege —

MR. LEVY: There is no such privilege. I‘ve asserted the attorney work product privilege, we’ve asserted privileges under the First Amendment, we‘ve asserted the attorney-client privilege, and we‘ve asserted privileges of confidentiality. It’s a voluntary interview and he’s declining to answer the question.

Page 288-289

Q. Has Fusion GPS ever offered directly or indirectly to pay journalists to publish information?

A. No.

Q. Are you aware of any Fusion clients offering directly or indirectly to pay journalists to publish information from Fusion?

MR. LEVY: While working for Fusion on a Fusion matter or as a general matter?

MR. FOSTER: Can you let the witness answer.

MR. LEVY: Well, if the question’s clear he can answer any question —

MR. FOSTER: I think the question was clear.

MR. LEVY: — within the scope of the interview —

MR. DAVIS: Are there any of Fusion’s clients offering —

THE REPORTER: Guys.

BY MR. DAVIS: Q. I’ll repeat the question. Are you aware of any of Fusion’s clients offering directly or indirectly to pay journalists to publish information from Fusion?

A. Not to my knowledge or recollection, no.

Page 290- 294

BY MS. SAWYER: Q. We appreciate your time today, your patience in answering our questions. You’ve been asked a number of questions just about — well, strike that.  Were any of the particular factual findings or conclusions that you reached with regard to the research that was being done related to Russian interference in the 2016 election including possible ties to the Trump campaign, were any of the factual findings or conclusions influenced in any way by the identity of the client for whom you were doing that work?

A. All the questions you’ve asked I guess this one I’ve not given a lot of thought to. Offhand, not that I can think of.

Q. So you weren’t trying to reach a particular conclusion based on the identity had they asked you to find — well, strike that.  I think what I’m trying to get some sense of comfort around is to the extent there might be concerns that the work being done was driven in a direction designed to reach a particular conclusion for a client or because of the client’s identity was that the case?

A. I think it’s safe to say that, you know, at some point probably early in 2016 I had reached a conclusion about Donald Trump as a businessman and his character and I was opposed to Donald Trump. I’m not going to pretend that that wouldn’t have entered into my thinking. You know, again, I was a journalist my whole life. So we were, you know, trained not to take sides and practiced in not taking sides.  So most of what I do as a research person we try to avoid getting into situations where one’s etiology or political views would cloud your work because it’s a known hazard, but, you know, I reached an opinion about Donald Trump and his suitability to be president of the United States and I was concerned about whether he was the best person for the job.

Q. And given that you had been trained not to 9allow etiology to cloud your work, it sounds like you reached a conclusion and had concerns about Candidate Trump. What steps did you take to then ensure that your conclusion didn’t cloud the work that was being done?

A. Well, to be clear, my concerns were in the category of character and competence rather than — I didn’t have any specific concerns for much of the time about his views, which I don’t share, but that wasn’t really the issue. Most of what we do has to do with do people have integrity and whether they’ve been involved in illicit activity. So those were the things I focused on.

Q. So the conclusion that you reached, was it informed by the research that you were — your personal conclusion, was it informed by the research that you were conducting?

A. Yes. We deal in factual information and over the course of this project we gathered lots of facts about Donald Trump.

Q. You mentioned that earlier and I think you made clear a number of times in the course of the day that the specific work on Russian interference 7and possible ties to the campaign that Mr. Steele was doing was one part of that bigger picture, and I did want to ask you about some of that bigger picture of the work and get a sense from you, if I could, you know, some of the background and findings. In particular one of the things you had mentioned –– well, you just mentioned right now as we were speaking the term “illicit activity.” What, if any, research did you conduct that gave you any concerns about then Candidate Trump and potential illicit activity?

A. I think the thing I cited to you was his relationship with organized crime figures, and that was a concern.

Q. And what can you share with us about the findings, your findings?

A. Well, I’ve tried to share as much as I could think of over the course of today. As I say, there were various allegations of fraudulent business practices or dishonest business practices or connections with organized crime figures. In fact, you know, there was numerous others that I can’t remember the names of. It was a long history of associations with people accused of involvement in criminal activity.  You know, just to reiterate, the facts of these investigations are the facts and we don’t try to drive an investigation to any particular conclusion, certainly not based on our political views. So I think it would be, you know, not believable for me to tell you I didn’t reach, you know, views about Donald Trump’s integrity, but, you know, those were — those didn’t influence the research in terms of the findings. Those were the findings.

Page 295-300

Q. You had also mentioned earlier in the day work –– that there was an investigation about money from Kazakhstan?

A. Yes.

Q. And could you tell me about that and what you investigated and what you learned.

A. There was some parallel litigation in New York involving attempts by the government of Kazakhstan to recover money that had been allegedly 5tolen from Kazakhstan, billions of dollars in a colossal bank failure. The name of the bank was BTA Bank. It’s been well established in various courts that the government’s allegations are basically true, which is that large amounts of money were illicitly removed from this bank, laundered across Europe and into the United States apparently. Allegedly. So there was a civil case, at least one civil case in New York involving — filed by the city of Almaty, A-L-M-A-T-Y, against some alleged Kazakh money launderers. I don’t remember exactly how, but we learned that — it wasn’t from Chris. We learned that Felix Sater had some connections with these people, and it’s been more recently in the media that he’s helping the government of Kazakhstan to recover this money. There’s been media reports that the money went into the Trump Soho or it went into the company that built the Trump Soho. I can’t remember the name.

Q. So the connection in that instance was to Felix Sater and through Felix Sater to — potentially to Donald Trump?

A. Yes. It was a company that Felix Sater and Donald Trump were involved in together.

Q. And the research you did on that project, was that public source research? Did you have any other — did you have human intelligence sources on that project?

A. I think I probably did have some human sources. That’s my answer.

Q. Did you feel in the course of that that you had uncovered evidence of any criminal activity by Donald Trump?

A. In the course of that I don’t think so. I think my concern was the associations with known organized crime figures.

Q. And that included Felix Sater?

A. Yes.

Q. Anyone else in particular?

A. There were others.

MR. LEVY: Beyond what we’ve discussed today?

MS. SAWYER: Yes, beyond what we’ve already discussed.

BY THE WITNESS: A. Another figure involved in the Trump Soho project was a central Asian person named Arif, A-R-I-F, is the last name. The first name is generally spelled Tevfik, it’s T-E-V-F-I-K. If you search under a different transiteration of that name you can find open source reporting alleging that he‘s an organized crime figure from Central Asia and he had an arrest for involvement in child prostitution.

Q. You mentioned as well that you had reviewed tax bills. Were these specifically Donald Trump’s tax bills?

A. They were Trump properties and I believe we may have reviewed some public information about estate taxes and things like that. We didn’t have access to his tax returns.

Q. Did you reach any conclusions based on your review of his tax bills? I think you mentioned that in connection with trying to assess either financial connections or his financial standing. Did you reach any conclusions with regard to either of those?

A. Yes. I concluded — we concluded that his statements about what individual properties were worth were greatly exaggerated and at odds with the information that he’d supplied, you know, in legal filings with tax authorities and other records, corporate records.

Q. Did any of that indicate anything that showed a connection to Russia or the Russian government or Russian officials or Russian oligarchs?

A. Not that I can recall.

Q. You mentioned as well, you brought up Trump golf courses. What in particular were you looking into with regard to Donald Trump’s golf courses?

A. The original inquiry was into the value of the courses, whether he had to borrow money to buy them, whether they were encumbered with debt, how much money they brought in, what valuations he put on them, and property tax filings.

Q. And in general can you share what findings and conclusions you reached?

MR. LEVY: With regard to?

MS. SAWYER: To the work on the golf properties.

BY THE WITNESS: A. A number of them don’t make any money. His valuations of the properties are questionable. I guess those would be the main findings.

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

This is the completion of the testimony that I found interesting…at this time.  The fact is, it’s all interesting, even the GOP lines of questioning.  I just don’t find the Republican lawyers angling super relevant right now.  All of this requires further analyzing.

The full transcript can be found here.

Some of my thoughts regarding the transcripts here.

One thought on “Fusion GPS #3

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