A former top staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appears to be part of a post-election effort by opposition research firm Fusion GPS to verify claims contained in a series of memos alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, based on leaked texts and Congressional documents.
As The Federalist's Sean Davis reports, Congressional documents and recently leaked texts between Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and a lobbyist representing a Russian aluminum oligarch suggest that Daniel J. Jones, an ex-FBI investigator and former Feinstein staffer who rose to professional fame after writing a controversial top-secret report on CIA torture, is "intimately involved with ongoing efforts to retroactively validate a series of salacious and unverified memos published by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, and Fusion GPS."
Of note, Jones currently runs the Penn Quarter Group, a "research and invesigative advisory" firm whose website was registered in April of 2016, days before Steele delivered his first in a series of Trump-Russia memos. Jones began tweeting out articles suggesting illicit ties between the Trump campaign and Russia as early as 2017.
The dossier, used by the FBI to secure secret wiretaps on Trump campaign affiliates, has become central to efforts by Congressional investigators investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election.
And while the dossier has come under fire for "salacious and unverified" claims, a January 8 New York Times profile of Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, confirms that dossier-related work continues.
Incidentally, and as noted recently, a separate effort to verify the Steele dossier is underway by another ex-FBI offiical commissioned by BuzzFeed, which is defending itself in a lawsuit brought on by Russian executives named in the documents. BuzzFeed has also suing the DNC for proof they were hacked in the first place, after they refused to comply with a subpoena.
While the Congressional probes were initially launched based on claims of Russian collusion with he Trump campaign, it has become clear through the course of the investigations that the Clinton Campaign, the DNC, and various anti-Trump actors were in fact colluding with high level Kremlin officials to create a series of memos intended to undermine the Trump campaign so that Hillary Clinton would win the election.
Congressional efforts - led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Devin Nunes (R-CA) of the House Intelligence Committee, and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) of the House Judiciary Committee - are closing in a tangled web of collusion against Donald Trump and his team.
Connecting the dots
Sean Davis of The Federalist notes that former Feinstein staffer Daniel Jones' name was mentioned in a list of individuals from a January 25 Congressional letter from Senators Grassley and Graham to various Democratic party leaders who were likely involved in Fusion GPS's 2016 efforts. The letter seeks all communications between the Democrats and a list of 40 individuals or entities, of which Jones is one.
Jones comes up again in a series of leaked text messages between Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Adam Waldman - a D.C. lawyer and lobbyist for Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov - as a point of contact for Christopher Steele.
The encrypted text messages, leaked to Fox News, discuss efforts by Warner to secure a testimony from Steele.
“I spoke w Steele,” Waldman wrote on April 25, 2017. “He repeated the same position which is that he wants to be helpful but is fearful of the triumvirate of cost, time suck and reputation.”
“He asked me what your concern was about a letter first and I explained it but he would still like as a first protective step from you and [Sen. Richard] Burr asking him and his partner to assist w the investigation by answering questions,” Waldman added. “He [Steele] said he will also speak w Dan Jones whom he says is talking to you.”
“I pointed out there is no privilege in that discussion although Dan [Jones] is a good guy and very trustworthy guy. I encouraged him again to engage with you for the sake of the truth and of vindication of the dossier,” he wrote. -Adam Waldman to Mark warner
Why would Waldman, a Russian oligarch's foreign agent, be the official cutout for both a U.S. senator and Christopher Steele?
Why would he recommend Daniel Jones - a former top Feinstein aide who worked for the FBI - as a point of contact and an information broker?
You know another question it raises? What exactly was Jones looking at and doing when he was on Intelligence Committee Staff? https://t.co/DHkLhMybqa— Doug Brown (@KappertIsle) February 20, 2018
Congressional investigators have been trying to get to the bottom of this tangled web of who worked for who, as well as any ongoing efforts, if any, to verify Steele's various memos. So far, answers haver been elusive.
When Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) of the Senate Intelligence Committee directly asked FBI Director Christopher Wray whether Steele ever worked directly for the Russian oligarch represented by Waldman, Wray declined to answer in a public forum - instead indicating that he might be able to provide information in a closed door session in order to protect classified information.
And when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) asked Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, if he was still being paid for work related to the dossier, Simpson refused to answer.
The elusive answers only raise more questions, as The Federalist notes:
Did Jones, Feinstein’s former top intel committee staffer, have any contact with Feinstein on the matter? Was she aware of any potential business relationship between Jones and individuals or organizations such as Fusion GPS being investigated by her committee? If so, did Feinstein ever disclose to the committee the possibility that she may have a significant conflict of interest given Jones’s involvement? If not, why not?
The connection between Jones and Steele, who authored his dossier memos at the direction of Fusion GPS, may also shed light on Feinstein’s bizarre decision to not only unilaterally release Simpson’s Senate testimony, but also the curious redactions in that transcript of the names of all of Fusion GPS employees, information that is not only not classified, but publicly available.
Feinstein’s bizarre decision to unilaterally release Fusion GPS transcripts, while redacting the names of Fusion GPS employees, now makes a lot more sense. https://t.co/Nwtc0jUOsE— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 20, 2018
Davis also notes that Feinstein said she was "pressured" to release the transcript of Simpson's testimony - a statement caught on video which she later walked back.
Between Jones' role in pursuing "vindication of the dossier," on Steele's behalf may also explain why Senators Grassley and Graham left Feinstein's office out of the loop when they filed their criminal referral of Steele to the FBI for making false statements to Federal agents.
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As the ongoing Congressional investigations continue to build to a head, Daniel Jones has now emerged as yet another link in the tangled web of espionage and collusion to try and ensure Donald Trump would never become President.
Too bad for them, he did, and Patriots within Congress are stepping right over even the best swamp handlers to get to the truth.