Fusion GPS chief Glenn Simpson told a Senate panel last year that a controversial dossier his firm produced alleging Donald Trump had suspicious connections with Russians was substantiated and that the document’s author briefed the FBI on his findings, according to a newly released transcript.
Simpson told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a closed-door interview last August that the author of the dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, decided to approach the FBI in July 2016.
“He thought from his perspective there was an issue — a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed,” Simpson said. He added that when Steele met with an FBI official in September, the official told Steele the bureau “had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source.”
Senate Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday released the 312-page transcript of Simpson’s appearance, saying she needed to combat “innuendo and misinformation” being spread about the interview.
“The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice,” Feinstein said in a statement. “The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.”
Republicans and Democrats have tangled in recent weeks over the origins of the dossier, which was funded in part by Trump’s political opponents, and how the FBI and other agencies may have used the dossier in their investigations.
Simpson, a former journalist who co-founded Fusion GPS, denied strongly in the interview that the dossier, which contains some salacious allegations, was phony.
“We can argue about what’s prudent and what’s not, but it’s not a fabrication,” he said.
Fusion initially was hired through a conservative website, the Washington Free Beacon, during the Republican primaries to dig up dirt on Trump. Later in the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee paid Fusion GPS through a law firm for some of the research that resulted in the dossier.
The 35-page report drew on information from Russian contacts and concluded that Russia had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump for at least five years and fed his campaign “valuable intelligence” about Clinton.
Trump has derided the findings, as recently as Dec. 26 when he wrote on Twitter: “‘Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED.’ And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!”