In an attempt to combat misinformation and partisan political obfuscation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, decided Tuesday to release more than 300 pages documenting an interview the committee conducted in August with Glenn Simpson, founder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, hired in 2016 to perform opposition research on Trump.
That firm commissioned a scandalous dossier on President Donald Trump, known now as the controversial “Steele Dossier,” that has become a hot-button issue in the congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Feinstein’s decision to brings to light five important highlights.
Glenn Simpson defends the dossier’s veracity.
“This is his [Christopher Steele] specialty. When you evaluate human intelligence, human reporting, field reporting, source reporting, you know, it’s sort of like when you’re a journalist and you’re trying to figure out who’s telling the truth. You don’t really decide who’s telling the truth. You decide whether the person is credible, whether there’s other reasons to believe what they’re saying, whether anything they’ve said factually matches up with something in public record. “
Steele “severed” relationship with the FBI after a questionable New York Times story.
According to Simpson, Steele was so concerned Russia might blackmail a presidential candidate, he reached out to FBI agents in July 2016 to share “a security issue.”
He met with another agent in Rome in the fall.
The bureau launched its investigation into the Trump campaign late July.
But Steele severed FBI contact after the Times reported the Trump campaign was not under investigation.
“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.”
As the Judiciary Committee rift grows, why are Republicans being so cagey?
For weeks, Sen. Feinstein has been sending requests for interviews and documents related to the Russia investigation, but Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has refused to approve them.
Sen. Grassley’s Press Secretary, Taylor Foy, said in a statement:
“Feinstein’s unilateral decision was made as the committee is still trying to secure testimony from other witnesses, including Jared Kushner. 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 a supposed criminal charge against Christopher Steele–but for what is not clear.
Last week, Sen. Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) initiate a criminal investigation into Steele, suggesting he may have misled the FBI.
Graham accused the former spy of “shopping this dossier all over the world” while acting as an FBI informant.
In his testimony, Glenn Simpson confirmed he had Steele brief reporters, which he did before the election and after Steele first spoke to the FBI.
He did not provide copies of the memoranda to the reporters.
What exactly Senators Grassley and Graham are accusing Steele of misleading investigators about, though, is unclear.
Did someone die over the dossier’s publication?
Investigators had asked Glenn Simpson if he had taken steps to “assess the credibility” of Steele’s sources.
“Yes, but I’m not going to get into sourcing information. I just don’t feel comfortable sharing because obviously it’s been in the news a lot lately that people who get in the way of the Russians tend to get hurt.”
Simpson attorney, Joshua Levy, intervened:
“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.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) also sits on the Judiciary Committee.
Criticizing the subterfuge in which Republicans are engaging, he said:
“For months, there has been a campaign to discredit Christopher Steele and cast doubt on the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The American people should have the opportunity to see the full transcript and judge for themselves.”
What’s in it, Republicans do not want us to know.
Their protection of Trump makes them complicit in whatever his eventual downfall will be.
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