The House Intelligence Committee just released a 165-page transcript of a hearing between committee members and Glenn Simpson, the man whose firm, Fusion GPS, investigated whether the campaign of President Donald Trump had untoward connections to Russia. Simpson worked for the Wall Street Journal and, prior to that, the D.C. newspaper Roll Call before moving to Fusion GPS.
We reviewed the entire 165 pages. Chief among the bombshells are lengthy references to the pee tape–yes, it’s in there–and some very interesting redactions. Here are six key takeaways:
(1) Simpson met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya on the morning of her infamous Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. On the morning of June 9th, Glenn Simpson attended a hearing where he apparently spoke with Veselnitskaya at the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City. This hearing was heavily attended by multiple D.C. power players and Simpson described it as “sort of obligatory” due to his work as part of a “litigation team” on an unrelated matter.
Testimony from a curiously unnamed questioner and Simpson on page 121 reads as follows:
Questioner: And what conversations did you have, if any, with Ms. Veselnitskaya while you were attending this hearing?
Simpson: Mrs. Veselnitskaya did not speak much English. And so my conversations with her, every time I met her, were pretty limited. And I don’t remember having any conversation other than pleasantries.
Later, Simpson noted that he had dinner with Veselnitskaya and others in Washington, D.C. a day or two after the hearing and Trump Tower meeting. Again, an exchange between Simpson and the unknown questioner:
Questioner: And did you have any conversations with Ms. Veselnitskaya, either directly or through an interpreter at this dinner?
Simpson: Nothing I specifically recall. I recall that they were at the other end of the table from me. But you know, we had drinks before, and I might have said something to her. I just — it wouldn’t stick in my mind.
Questioner: But it’s your testimony that you didn’t talk to her about the, what’s become known as the Trump Tower meeting before it occurred?
Simpson: Neither before nor after.
(2) Christopher Steele was paid $160,000 for his work on the dossier. An interaction between Simpson and Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was quite to the point on this matter. It reads, in relevant part:
Gowdy: And how much did you pay Chris Steele?
Simpson: I think what we’ve told the committee from the bank records is that it was ultimately $160,000. That sounds right to me. I think probably the initial engagement was for 20 or 30 thousand dollars. There’s, you know, currency differences between pounds and dollars, so I don’t remember how it was denominated or exactly how it was priced.
Gowdy: Now, help me understand this. Would that payment for Steele have been expensed to the law firm, or would Fusion have paid that out of its own money that it received from the law firm?
Simpson: I believe, at least if things were running the way I hope they ran, it was expensed to the law firm.
(3) A lot of Simpson’s testimony actually occurred off the record. On numerous occasions, Simpson is tripped up by Gowdy’s line of questioning. This causes Simpson to fumble around with his answers and veer into inconsistency. For example, Simpson offers a great deal of information about Fusion GPS’ first client, conservative-leaning The Washington Free Beacon, but then gets quite defensive and looks to his legal counsel when asked similar questions about Perkins Coie, the Democratic Party-linked law firm who picked up the Trump opposition research after the Republican Party primaries drew to a close. (See: pages 11-17)
(4) Congressman Adam Schiff was very interested in the pee tape. Yes, the pee tape was referenced again. Here’s the full text of the Schiff-Simpson Dialectic On Watersports [emphasis added]:
Schiff: The kompromat which has become so much a focus of any discussion of the dossier, are there any of the facts related to that, the salacious video that were not a part of the dossier or other like allegations that came to your attention?
Simpson: No. I mean, you know, we were asked about other allegations by reporters that didn’t come from us, and I am not – we were asked about earlier stories of earlier trips and whether other things had happened, and similar things. Actually not similar things, more sort of less colorful. But anyway, girls. And, you know, we didn’t – I mean to be clear, we never set out to investigate whether Donald Trump or anyone else was engaged in sexual activity for the sort of practical reason that I just didn’t think it was a useful subject to investigate. I investigate business stuff and financial crime and corruption and those kind of things. That’s my gig. So people came to us with stories that we never pursued. And we were recently asked by some reporter did you write a memo in 2015 about – I had no idea what they were talking about. You know, we threw a line in the water and Moby Dick came back, and we didn’t know what to do with it at first. So anyway.
Schiff: And, you know, from your description of your relationship with Mr. Steele, I take it that you sent him to find what he could find. You didn’t send him to go find evidence of candidate Trump entertaining women in whatever way in a hotel.
Simpson: No. But I think this underscores a really important point, which is that so kompromat is a big deal for Chris Steele. It is not a big deal for Glenn Simpson, because my professional world is financial crime and politics and the other things. But he is in Russian intelligence. You know, that’s his specialty, and a lot of what you are worrying about. So when he explains all this, he has other cases where people have been kompromatted. And it’s something he has dealt with his entire adult life. So I can’t tell you he wasn’t looking for that, because it was probably something that was among the things that he would have asked someone to check.
Schiff: It is Russian tradecraft that he would have been familiar with?
Simpson: Correct. So when the information comes back that there is kompromat but that there is also a conspiracy afoot, you know, each of us sees our piece of the elephant, right? I am like, oh, my God, there is a conspiracy afoot. And he is like, oh, my God, there is a kompromat problem.
(5) Again with the redactions. The Senate Judiciary Committee transcript of Glenn Simpson’s testimony contained multiple key redactions. Today’s transcript contains multiple redactions as well. Many of those redactions have to do with an apparent intelligence discussion between Simpson, Adam Schiff and Trey Gowdy. (See: pages 25-27.) One of the more curious redactions, however, which is referenced above in detail #1 is that one of Simpson’s interrogators has their name redacted. The only insight is that the unnamed questioner is, at one point, referred to as “sir.” (See: page 101.) Redacting the name of a congressional questioner, of course, makes absolutely no sense–which, in reality, actually makes perfect sense for this story.
(6) Russian money laundering allegations abound. Mentioned on no less than fifteen pages are references to money laundering. Simpson referenced various figures said to be implicated in Russian money laundering schemes. Many of those individuals and schemes allegedly connected to various figures and properties in the orbit of Donald Trump–including members of the Trump family itself. There’s also talk of alleged Russian mafia ties, mineral extraction deals apparently involving Vladimir Putin, gangsters allegedly purchasing Trump properties, the Orthodox Church potentially being used as a laundromat for illicit cash, mention of the KGB and the Russian intelligence services–and plenty of other spy thriller-like material. Simpson also reveals an extremely interesting understanding of the way the Russian Federation currently operates which dovetails into an equally interesting back-and-forth with Adam Schiff. (See: pages 41-42.)
[image via screengrab/MSNBC]
Editor’s note: additional material was added to this article after initial publication.