A Democratic Party-aligned opposition research firm is stonewalling Congressional investigators who are trying to ascertain exactly who financed the now-debunked “Russia dossier” – remember? The one that claimed germaphobe Trump enjoyed getting urinated on by Russian hookers?
The New York Post’s Paul Sperry is out with another report about Fusion GPS, a “research and strategic intelligence firm” founded by “three former Wall Street Journal investigative reporters.” But congressional sources say it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary, anti-Trump agenda."
Fusion has refused to answer Senate investigators’ questions or provide records of communications that might help the panel identify who financed the error-ridden dossier. Now, because of the firm's intransigence, it looks like the investigators might soon make good on their threats.
“These weren’t mercenaries or hired guns,” a congressional source familiar with the dossier probe said.
“These guys had a vested personal and ideological interest in smearing Trump and boosting Hillary’s chances of winning the White House.”
The firm was founded by Glenn Simpson, Thomas Catan and Peter Fritsch. Two of whom, Fritsch and Catan, have ties to Mexico -- with Fritsch, a former Journal bureau chief in Mexico City, married to a Mexican woman who worked for Grupo Dina -- a beneficiary of NAFTA. Catan, formerly from Britain, once edited a Mexican business magazine.
Simpson, pictured below, is reported to have shared dark views of both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump. Before joining Fusion GPS, Simpson did opposition research for a former Clinton White House operative.
Clearly, the research in the dossier – which was used to help justify the launch of Congressional and DOJ probes into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian entities – has had tremendous consequences for the new administration, forcing Trump to beat back baseless claims and insinuations fed to the media by the DOJ and intelligence agencies. Still, after months of this treatment, no evidence of collusion has emerged.
But the question remains: Who, exactly, provided the funding for the organization’s controversial and research? Money that allowed the firm to hire former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, allegedly the source of the dossier’s controversial claims.
The Post has an idea of the profile, if not exactly the identity, of the individual or individuals responsible.
“Fusion GPS was on the payroll of an unidentified Democratic ally of Clinton when it hired a long-retired British spy to dig up dirt on Trump. In 2012, Democrats hired Fusion GPS to uncover dirt on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And in 2015, Democrat ally Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to investigate pro-life activists protesting the abortion group.”
The FBI is also resisting Senate investigators who are zeroing in on the alleged misconduct by former deputy director Andrew McCabe, who’s failure to recuse himself from the investigation into the Trump campaign despite financial and political connections to Clinton through his Democrat activist wife has attracted suspicion.
And unsurprisingly, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch – now the subject of another probe organized by the Senate Judiciary Committee – is somehow involved.
"Senate investigators are demanding to see records of communications between Fusion GPS and the FBI and the Justice Department, including any contacts with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, now under congressional investigation for possibly obstructing the Hillary Clinton email probe, and deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, who is under investigation by the Senate and the Justice inspector general for failing to recuse himself despite financial and political connections to the Clinton campaign through his Democrat activist wife.:
The bureau’s attempts to verify the content in the dossier should alarm anybody in a report that should who’s been following along these past few months, after receiving a copy of the dossier in August, the bureau offered to pay its controversial source to corroborate the information.
“The FBI received a copy of the Democrat-funded dossier in August, during the heat of the campaign, and is said to have contracted in October to pay Steele $50,000 to help corroborate the dirt on Trump — a relationship that “raises substantial questions about the independence” of the bureau in investigating Trump, warned Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.”
As the Post reminds us, Steele has been cited as the source for nearly the entire collusion narrative, from the pro-Trump hackers were working at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the theory that the Russian government might have compromising information about Trump, and the idea that a Trump confidant held a clandestine meeting in Moscow.
All of these allegations, as the Post notes, are 100% bullshit. Steele hasn't traveled to Moscow since the 1990s, and it appears his main source for most of his material was Google.
“Steele’s most sensational allegations remain unconfirmed. For instance, his claim that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen held a “clandestine meeting” on the alleged hacking scheme in Prague with “Kremlin officials” in August 2016 unraveled when Cohen denied ever visiting Prague, his passport showed no stamps showing he left or entered the US at the time, witnesses accounted for his presence here, and Czech authorities found no evidence Cohen went to Prague.
Steele hadn’t worked in Moscow since the 1990s and didn’t actually travel there to gather intelligence on Trump firsthand. He relied on third-hand “friend of friend” sourcing. In fact, most of his claimed Russian sources spoke not directly to him but “in confidence to a trusted compatriot” who, in turn, spoke to Steele — and always anonymously.
But his main source may have been Google. Most of the information branded as “intelligence” was merely rehashed from news headlines or cut and pasted — replete with errors — from Wikipedia.”
But that didn’t stop both Democrats and, before them, anti-Trump Republicans, from accepting Steele’s allegations without scrutiny - and paying him handsomely for his efforts.
“Steele contracted with Fusion GPS to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia starting in June 2016, whereupon he outlandishly claimed that Hillary campaign hackers were “paid by both Trump’s team and the Kremlin” and that the operation was run out of Putin’s office. He also fed Fusion GPS and its Hillary-allied clients incredulous gossip about Trump hating the Obamas so much that he hired hookers to urinate on a bed they slept in at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton, and that Russian intelligence recorded the pee party in case they needed to blackmail Trump.
Never mind that none of the rumors were backed by evidence or even credible sourcing (don’t bother trying to confirm his bed-wetting yarn, Steele advised, as “all direct witnesses have been silenced”). Steele reinforced his paying customers’ worst fears about Trump, and they rewarded him for it with a whopping $250,000 in payments.”
Steele, pictured below, also played a role in maligning former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn by suggesting there was something “untoward” about Flynn’s attending of a dinner to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Russia Today – an event that was also attended by former Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“In the same August report, for example, Steele connected a Moscow trip taken by then-Trump campaign adviser Michael Flynn to “the Russian operation” to hack the election. But there was nothing secret about the trip, which had taken place months earlier and had been widely reported.
And there was nothing untoward about it. It was a dinner celebrating the 10th birthday of Russian TV network RT, and Flynn sat at the same table with Putin as US Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.”
Meanwhile, it appears the founders of Fusion GPS have profited handsomely from their misinformation campaign:
“Property records show that in June 2016, as Clinton allies bankrolled Fusion GPS, Fritsch bought a six-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Bethesda, Md., for $2.3 million.”
Could this be the thread that finally unravels the Trump investigation? We think so. Stay tuned for more information once the inevitable subpoena is served...