TEL AVIV — In testimony released publicly last week, Glenn R. Simpson, the co-founder of the controversial opposition research firm Fusion GPS conceded that he opposed Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy and that his negative opinions of the politician may have “entered” into his “thinking.”
Fusion GPS compiled the infamous, largely discredited 35-page dossier accusing Trump and his presidential campaign of ties with Russia.
In August 22 testimony released last week and reviewed in full by Breitbart News, Simpson made the following admission:
I think it’s safe to say that, you know, at some point probably early in 2016 I had reached a conclusion about Donald Trump as a businessman and his character and I was opposed to Donald Trump. I’m not going to pretend that that wouldn’t have entered into my thinking.
You know, again, I was a journalist my whole life. So we were, you know, trained not to take sides and practiced in not taking sides. So most of what I do as a research person is we try to avoid getting into situations where one’s etiology or political views would cloud your work because it’s a known hazard, but, you know, I reached an opinion about Donald Trump and his suitability to be president of the United States and I was concerned about whether he was the best person for the job.
Simpson was responding to a question about “concerns that the work being done was driven in a direction designed to reach a particular conclusion for a client or because of the client’s identity.”
In October, the Washington Post reported that in April 2016, attorney Marc E. Elias and his law firm Perkins Coie retained Fusion GPS to conduct the firm’s anti-Trump work on behalf of both Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Through Perkins Coie, Clinton’s campaign and the DNC continued to fund Fusion GPS until October 2016, days before Election Day, the Post reported.
The question posed to Simpson about concerns over his firm seeking to reach certain conclusions in its political research was prompted by Simpson’s description of Fusion GPS’s mission as aiming to “customize a research solution” based on the client’s “problem.”
During the testimony, Simpson stated: “Another thing we say about our work is it’s custom information, it’s a customized product. You tell us what your problem is and we customize a research solution.”
Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, to do the work cited in the anti-Trump dossier. Steele later conceded in court documents that part of his work still needed to be verified.
The BBC reported that Steele’s information served as a “roadmap” for the FBI’s investigation into claims of coordination between Moscow and members of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Last April, CNN reported that the dossier served as part of the FBI’s justification for seeking the FISA court’s reported approval to clandestinely monitor the communications of Carter Page, the American oil industry investor who was tangentially and briefly associated with Trump’s presidential campaign.
Major questions have been raised as to the veracity of the dossier, large sections of which have been discredited.
Citing a “Kremlin insider,” the dossier, which misspelled the name of a Russian diplomat, claimed that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen held “secret meetings” with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016.
That charge unraveled after Cohen revealed he had never traveled to Prague, calling the story “totally fake, totally inaccurate.” The Atlantic confirmed Cohen’s whereabouts in New York and California during the period the dossier claimed that Cohen was in Prague. Cohen reportedly produced his passport showing he had not traveled to Prague.
In testimony in May, former FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the basis for the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia allegedly wanted Trump in office was not because the billionaire was, as Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) claimed during a hearing, “ensnared in” Russia’s “web of patronage” – just as the dossier alleged. Instead, the FBI chief provided two primary reasons for Russia’s alleged favoring of Trump over Clinton during the 2016 presidential race.
One reason, according to Comey, was that Putin “hated” Clinton and would have favored any Republican opponent. The second reason, Comey explained, was that Putin made an assessment that it would be easier to make a deal with a businessman than someone from the political class.
Comey’s statements are a far cry from the conspiracies fueled by the dossier alleging Putin held blackmail information on Trump.
Citing current and former government officials, the New Yorker reported the dossier prompted skepticism among intelligence community members, with the publication quoting one member saying it was a “nutty” piece of evidence to submit to a U.S. president.
Steele’s work has been questioned by former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who currently works at the Hillary Clinton-tied Beacon Global Strategies LLC.
NBC News reported on Morell’s questions about Steele’s credibility:
Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. …
Morell pointed out that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Meet the Press on March 5 that he had seen no evidence of a conspiracy when he left office January 20.
“That’s a pretty strong statement by General Clapper,” Morell said.
Regarding Steele’s dossier, Morell stated, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t.”
Morell charged the dossier “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”
“I had two questions when I first read it. One was, how did Chris talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries.”
And then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB [Russian intelligence] officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, “Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,” because they want to get paid some more.
I think you’ve got to take all that into consideration when you consider the dossier.
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