The saga of the Fusion GPS-funded, DNC-linked Trump dossier that was the result of ‘investigation’ by former British MI6 spy Christopher Steele continues to evolve. Days ago, Steele was referred to the Justice Department for investigation, and now California Senator Dianne Feinstein has taken it upon herself to leak the transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s closed-door testimony. The transcript reveals that somebody connected to the dossier has apparently lost their life under suspicious circumstances, and a speculative conclusion has been floated about who that person might be. But the transcript’s leak also sends a clear message, and it is a threatening one.
On January 2nd, the co-founders of Fusion GPS, Simpson Peter Fritsch, penned an op-ed in the New York Times entitled ‘The Republicans’ Fake Investigations’, likening the right-leaning overseers of the Fusion GPS investigation to past Republicans who sought to protect Richard Nixon by misdirecting criticism toward Democrats.
The irony is that Simpson and Fritsch have the modern scenario, and therefore their chosen analogy, inverted. Uranium One was the first Russia-linked scandal to occur, and it is linked directly to the Democratic presidential nominee whose organization, the DNC, provided funding for the Fusion GPS report, yet another Democrat-linked scandal intended to distract from the first. It seems clear that the first scandal, Uranium One, was the impetus for the second, Fusion GPS, which was used to push the third narrative; the far less substantiated, if at all real, ‘scandal’ which continues to embroil the president.
The op-ed chronology of narratives backward, yet it is this wrong-headed chronology that won’t seem to die. The NYT op-ed likely didn’t help garner sympathy for Simpson, Fritsch, or Christopher Steele with the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was investigating the dossier at the time of publication.
Of course, the duo goes on in the op-ed to deny all wrongdoing, maintaining that the investigators are “chasing rabbits”, never once acknowledging the unconscionable conflict of interest that is the dossier’s source of funding nor the outright lies and falsehoods which riddle the supposed “yearlong effort to decipher Mr. Trump’s complex business past”. Clearly, their opinion-editorial, which reads like a Clinton-written talking point, was not enough to distract the Senate Judiciary Committee – which is comprised of both Republicans and Democrats, by the way – from the facts.
On January 5th, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) publically announced on Grassley’s website – which has become a valuable source of updates on the committee’s findings and recommendations – that they were referring the dossier’s author, Christopher Steele, to the Department of Justice for further investigation. Grassley strongly implied that the committee had discovered credible evidence of a potential criminal violation during their investigation into the dossier’s origins.
I don’t take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation. But, as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review,” Grassley wrote.
“After reviewing how Mr. Steele conducted himself in distributing information contained in the dossier and how many stop signs the DOJ ignored in its use of the dossier, I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter,” Graham added. (Grassley.senate.gov)
Grassley and Graham’s letter makes clear that they are not alleging a crime nor are they concerned with the veracity of the dossier’s content. But they do assert that further investigation into Steele is warranted, and that investigation should be handled by an independent special counsel.
Four days after this recommendation, Dianne Feinstein – a ride or die Clinton-affiliated Democrat – leaked the transcript of Glenn Simpson’s testimony to the public. Keep in mind that the testimony was given in August of 2017, nearly five months ago, and that it was plausibly a piece of evidence that aided Grassley and Graham’s decision to recommend further investigation into Steele’s honesty with FBI agents. In other words, it’s almost certainly not truthful.
If the NYT editorial is any indication, Simpson remains averse to acknowledging the obviously poor optics of facilitating a DNC-funded dossier that turned out to be, in most eyes, a smear job against Donald Trump. There is little reason to believe he has been forthcoming or truthful, and that includes his testimony given in August. He remains committed to the Trump-Putin collusion narrative, and has admitted zero responsibility for disseminating false information on the matter.
Further, he suggested in his op-ed that the testimony be released.
‘Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right. It’s time to share what our company told investigators,’ Simpson co-wrote.
Feinstein was all too happy to oblige him, but she had a greater reason for doing so than appeasing Glenn Simpson, a patsy reporter.
Even Democratic Senator Mark Warner, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, agreed with Grassley and others that the testimony should remain sealed “because it might impugn other witnesses from coming forward”. The Simpson testimony is by no means a comprehensive nor trustworthy accounting of the dossier’s origins or the actions that prompted and facilitated its creation, yet Feinstein chose to release it unilaterally anyway.
Naturally, Grassley was pissed that Feinstein would act in such a slimy, dishonest way. Why anybody would expect anything different is beyond comprehension. A spokesperson for Grassley called Feinstein’s decision “totally confounding”, adding that “her action undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses.”
There’s two clear reasons why she would do such a thing. Further disseminating a narrative that supports the Trump-Putin collusion storyline will further embolden those inclined to believe it. They can maintain the self-assuring yet disingenuous claim: ‘he was under oath!’, as if there was honor amongst thieves.
Secondly, the testimony withholds in its pages an implied threat: somebody connected with the dossier has died as a result of that affiliation, and if you talk, you could die too. This is what Warner was speaking of when he talked about Simpson’s testimonial transcript impugning other witnesses from coming forth. It seems that is precisely the chilling effect that Feinstein and the higher-ups she associates with are attempting to achieve.
The release of the Simpson transcript was, in and of itself, a not-so-veiled threat to those who might seek to testify against Fusion GPS, the DNC, and even Steele.
Two words: cold blooded.
Is it any wonder why Simpson continues to adhere to the narrative so vehemently?
‘“Yes, but I’m not going to get into sourcing information,” Simpson replied in his testimony.
When asked why he was declining to answer, his attorney, Joshua Levy, said Simpson “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,” Levy added.’ (The Hill)
The statement by Simpson’s attorney Joshua Levy is chilling in and of itself. The fact that somebody has allegedly already been killed – that somebody reportedly being a Russian story source– is distressing enough.
According to the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross, "it's been theorized that this is ex-KGB guy Oleg Erovkinin, who was chief of staff to Igor Sechin. But he was killed under suspicious circumstances on Dec. 26, 2016, before the dossier was published."’
But the statement by Levy is also hair-raising on another level that is subtler. With the irrefutable implication that any source revealed as being part of the dossier could be subject to murder, and the leakage of this transcript by Feinstein, there is a message being sent: somebody is powerful enough to get to any source that comes forward, and Feinstein is powerful and willing enough to assist in blowing their cover.
The “this honest work” line just adds to the Orwellian, doublespeak aspect of the otherwise laughable statement. There is little honest about the Trump dossier, from its origins to its content to the testimony now being given with respect to it. Unfortunately, the leak and the veiled threat it contains are not laughable at all, they’re borderline frightening. The worst part is that these developments do cast doubt on how willing any potential witness withholding incriminating evidence in the matter will be to tell their story. And that is precisely the effect that Feinstein and her bosses were hoping to achieve through the leak.