Fusion’s Russia Fog
The Steele dossier hit men now claim to be political victims.
Editorial Board – Wall Street Journal
Jan. 4, 2018
Let’s see. The Clinton campaign hires Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm, to investigate the Trump campaign. Fusion hires a former British spy, Christopher Steele, who produces a dossier based on Russian sources full of rumor, hearsay and an occasional fact to allege collusion between the Kremlin and Trump campaign.
The dossier gets to the FBI, which uses it to justify opening a counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign, perhaps including a judicial warrant to spy on Trump officials. Then Fusion has Mr. Steele privately brief select media reporters, ensuring that the dossier’s contents become public before the election.
And now Fusion GPS complains about being a victim? Huh?
Only in Washington, folks.
That’s the sob story spun by Fusion GPS founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch Wednesday in a New York Times op-ed that matches the Steele dossier for disinformation.
The Fusion duo portray themselves as valiantly working to “highlight Mr. Trump’s Russia ties” by providing the FBI with “intelligence reports” that corroborated “credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia.” For exercising their “right under the First Amendment,” Fusion laments that it has been subject to Congressional harassment and a “succession of mendacious conspiracy theories,” including by us. Oh my.
Fusion is talented at producing dirt for hire, including for Russians to smear human-rights activist Bill Browder. The problem is the veracity of its work, and the cofounders don’t name a single example in their op-ed of something that proves the dossier’s claim of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Eighteen months after the dossier hit Washington, the FBI, special counsel Robert Mueller and Congress have also offered no public validation of its collusion allegations.
The Fusion boys pat themselves on the back for “having handed over our relevant bank records,” but the firm stonewalled Congressional committees for most of 2017, refusing to divulge the names of its clients (the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee) and even suing to prevent access to its bank records. In court documents, Fusion has also admitted to paying journalists during the election, though it refuses to disclose the names, amounts or purposes of the payments.
As Mr. Browder notes on Twitter , the Fusion op-ed also “conveniently omits” that it “worked for Russian gov’t interests trying to repeal Magnitsky Act [sanctions] at the same time [it] was working on the dossier.” Mr. Simpson met with his Russian client, Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, before and after she sat with Donald Trump Jr. in Trump Tower in June 2016.
Mr. Simpson continues to claim he knew nothing about her Trump meeting and that she knew nothing of his Steele dossier work—though you’ll have to take his word for the coincidence.
As for Fusion’s deep concern about “an attack on our country by a hostile foreign power,” the firm’s concern about Russia—and its human-rights abuses, for which the Magnitsky sanctions were imposed—would seem to stop at its bank account.
Far from being victimized, Fusion has been protected by a Beltway press corps stocked with allies who rely on the firm for scoops. Fusion also has friends in the FBI and Justice Department who have a mutual interest in blocking Congress from discovering how the dossier was used to investigate the Trump campaign.
Toward that end, the New York Times reported on the weekend that the real Rosetta Stone of the Trump-Russia probe was a drunken conversation in May of 2016 by junior Trump staffer George Papadopoulos. This narrative would have us believe that the FBI hinged its probe on a man it didn’t bother to interview until 2017, and about whom it didn’t brief Congress until months after the election.
By the way, the FBI or Justice Department sources who leaked this story almost surely broke the law in disclosing classified information about details collected by intelligence agencies about the meetings and conversations of Mr. Papadopoulos, a private citizen. Yet the FBI and Justice still refuse to tell Congress how they used the Steele dossier.
Fusion now says it wants Congress to release transcripts of Mr. Simpson’s interviews with committees, a change from his refusal last year to appear in public session before the Senate Judiciary Committee. By all means, disclose it all, along with FBI agent-source reports on the Steele dossier and the surveillance warrant applications that Justice refuses to release.
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