The GOP chairman of the House intelligence committee has subpoenaed the head of the shady Washington firm that commissioned the sensational anti-Trump campaign opposition-research dossier
The move is adding fresh intensity to the behind-the-scenes shuffle among Congress to grasp how the infamous document fits into the Russian election meddling investigation.
The subpoena issued for Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson comes as special counsel Robert Mueller’s separate investigation interviewed the former British spy, Christopher Steele, who worked with Mr. Simpson in compiling the dossier of negative intelligence on Mr. Trump.
The CIA and FBI saw the dossier’s allegations as so sensational and sensitive last year that they excluded any mention of it from the intelligence community’s highly publicized accusations back in January about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Meanwhile, Carter Page, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who filed one of several slander lawsuits because of the dossier, reportedly has said he will not appear before the Senate intelligence committee’s Russia probe. While unconfirmed whether the committee formally requested his testimony, the energy investor with Russia ties did inform the panel he won’t show if they do ask him.
Originally commissioned by Mr. Trump’s Republican rivals and then by a Democratic client, the dossier contains allegations about President Trump’s Moscow contacts. Mr. Steele wrote it in 2016 with support from Mr. Simpson and his firm before it was published by the online news service BuzzFeed just before January’s inauguration.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that House intelligence committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes pushed for a subpoena for Mr. Simpson’s testimony, the latest sign that panel infighting continues to plague the House inquiry after months of investigating.
Last spring Mr. Nunes stepped down from heading the committee’s Russia probe amid allegations he failed to keep other panel members abreast of his activities. On Tuesday Fusion GPS lawyer Joshua Levy lashed out at him, questioning the legitimacy of the subpoenas and blasting them as a “blatant attempt to undermine the reporting” of the dossier.
Democratic committee members also slammed Mr. Nunes. Rep. Eric Swalwell, California Democrat, warned that “we are at risk of having a flat Earth report come out of the House intelligence committee as to what happened with Russia.”
Mr. Nunes has remained active in the investigation despite stepping aside and has also weathered criticism he is too close to the Trump White House. The Californian has countered that Democratic committee members have distorted the investigation to bash Mr. Trump at every opportunity possible.
The divisions mean the House committee could end up issuing competing reports, both GOP and Democratic sources close to the committee have told The Washington Times.
It was revealed last week that Mr. Mueller’s team spoke with Mr. Steele, a former MI6 agent, this past summer in Europe. The congressional probes have yet to talk with Mr. Steele, who started a private intelligence firm after leaving the British government.
Mr. Steele’s relationship with the American intelligence community has been at the center of the congressional investigations — particularly who specifically paid for him to compile the dossier — along with the depth of his ties to the FBI.
While Mueller’s team does their thing, the House Intelligence Committee is carrying on with their own investigation.
They’ve moved their investigation forward and are requesting information from Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s campaign data firm, as part of the Russia probe.
The company wanted to make sure everyone knew that they’re not being investigated.
“As one of the companies that played a prominent role in the election campaign, Cambridge Analytica has been asked by the House Intelligence Committee to provide it with information that might help its investigation,” the spokesman said.
“We believe that other organizations that worked on the campaign have been asked to do the same. [Cambridge Analytica] is not under investigation, and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the company,” he said.
Tidbits about Cambridge Analytica: Steve Bannon once sat on their board of directors, and billionaire Trump backer, Robert Mercer, has also invested in the company.
Separately, Trump’s digital director Brad Parscale has agreed to an interview with the House committee in its probe. In July, he denied having any knowledge of Russian involvement in the campaign’s data operations.
“The only collaboration I am aware of in the Trump digital campaign was with staff provided to the campaign by Facebook, Google and Twitter,” Parscale said in a statement accepting an invitation to meet with the committee.
“Those experts in digital marketing worked side-by-side with our teams from Giles-Parscale, the Republican National Committee, and Cambridge Analytica to run a professional and winning campaign,” he said.
Ads played a big part in the 2016 election, with the latest revelation being the amount of Russian-bought ads and Russian-created political pages on social media.
Facebook has become very proactive in getting the information to authorities, and the committee is prepared to release those Russian-linked ads to the public, soon.
Maybe some of the social media trolls I’ve dealt with in the past will see ads they’ve run with as truth and realize they’ve been had.
New Court Filing Re-Opens Question Of Who Gave Trump Dossier To BuzzFeed
In a surprise twist, opposition research firm Fusion GPS says that it did not give its dossier of infamous anti-Trump research to BuzzFeed News prior to the outlet’s Jan. 10 publication of the salacious document.
That revelation, made in court papers filed by Fusion GPS’ lawyers in a Washington, D.C., federal court Tuesday, re-opens the issue of who provided the dossier to BuzzFeed.
Tracking down BuzzFeed’s source could prove crucial to several lawsuits that have been filed over the dossier.
Fusion GPS made the disclosure in a motion to quash a request for discovery made by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian tech executive who is suing BuzzFeed for defamation. Gubarev was identified in a Dec. 13 memo contained in the dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Gubarev’s lawyers have pressed Fusion GPS to provide details about its work on the dossier. A Hillary Clinton ally hired the firm last June to investigate Donald Trump’s activities in Russia. Fusion GPS then hired Steele to conduct the investigation.
In his Dec. 13 memo, Steele cites an unnamed source who claimed that Gubarev planted viruses and malware to hack into the Democratic National Committee’s computers. Gubarev has denied the allegation and says that BuzzFeed was careless in publishing the dossier without fully vetting Steele’s allegations.
It was widely believed that Fusion GPS was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier.
The firm has acknowledged briefing reporters from outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo! News and Mother Jones on the dossier. The existence of the dossier was an open secret in Washington, D.C., journalism circles. And last month, Fusion agreed to provide any communications it had with BuzzFeed regarding the dossier.
But Fusion now says that while BuzzFeed reached out to request the dossier, the firm did not provide the document to the news outlet.
“Fusion did not create or author the December Memo, and did not give it to Buzzfeed,” reads its latest court filing.
The filing also quotes from a deposition given in late September by Gubarev attorney Evan Fray-Witzer.
“We have not yet been able to depose Fusion. We’re making that attempt. Fusion’s fighting it. But the one thing that they have told us is Buzzfeed didn’t get the dossier from them. Buzzfeed went to them and tried to get the dossier from them and they refused to give it to Buzzfeed,” Fray-Witzer said in the deposition.
Fusion’s denial that it gave the dossier to BuzzFeed leaves a few possibilities for who disseminated the controversial document, which is now being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Steele has insisted that he is not BuzzFeed’s source.
The former MI6 agent disclosed earlier this year in a London court, where he is being sued by Gubarev, that he did not provide the dossier to BuzzFeed or any other media outlets. He claims that he has only provided the complete dossier to Fusion, British intelligence services and to David Kramer, an associate of Arizona Sen. John McCain.
During a meeting in London on Nov. 28, Steele gave the dossier to Kramer. McCain then gave the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey during a Dec. 9 meeting. Fusion later instructed Steele to provide the final Dec. 13 memo to McCain and Kramer through an encrypted email channel.
Whether McCain or Kramer provided the dossier to BuzzFeed remains an open question.
Dossier of unverifiable sleaze
Lurid sex claims
The report states that in 2013 Trump hired prostitutes to urinate on the bed of the Presidential Suite at the Moscow Ritz Carlton, where he knew Barack and Michelle Obama had previously stayed.
It says: ‘Trump’s unorthodox behavior in Russia over the years had provided the authorities there with enough embarrassing material on the now Republican presidential candidate to be able to blackmail him if they so wished.’
The document states that Trump had declined ‘sweetener’ real estate deals in Russia that the Kremlin lined up in order to cultivate him.
The business proposals were said to be ‘in relation to the ongoing 2018 World Cup soccer tournament’.
Russia ‘cultivated’ Trump for five years
The dossier claimed that the Russian regime had been ‘cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years’.
According to the document, one source even claimed that ‘the Trump operation was both supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’ with the aim being to ‘sow discord’.
Putin ‘wanted to cause divisions in the West’
The report claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself had endorsed moves to encourage ‘splits and divisions in the West.
A dossier on Hillary Clinton
At one point the memo suggests Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov ‘controlled’ another dossier containing compromising material on Hillary Clinton compiled over ‘many years’.
Elsewhere in the document, it is claimed that Putin was ‘motivated by fear and hatred of Hillary Clinton.’
At one point the memo says there were reports of ‘clandestine meetings’ between Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and Kremlin representatives in August last year in Prague.
However, Trump’s counsel Michael Cohen today spoke out against allegations that he secretly met with Kremlin officials.