TEL AVIV — Glenn R. Simpson, the co-founder of the controversial opposition research firm Fusion GPS, admitted in testimony that he is not sure whether some of the most controversial claims inside the infamous, 35-page anti-Trump dossier produced by his company are true or false.
Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, to do the work cited in the anti-Trump dossier.
In November 14 testimony before the House Select Committee on Intelligence released last week, Simson was asked to provide an example of “something that he (Steele) produced to you that you found to be not credible?”
Simpson replied thusly (emphasis added):
No I don’t think anything comes to mind. I mean, I must say my original reaction to all this was to suspend judgment. I was not particularly interested in some of the things that he found that are among the most controversial, because I didn’t think they were useful or important for what I was trying to do.
And so I to this day can’t tell you whether a lot of those things I just don’t have a strong view as to whether they are false or true, per se. But what we did do is look at names and places and people and whether they matched up with information we could get elsewhere. And all of that, as far as it went, checked out. I haven’t seen anything that has contradicted anything in the memos to date, at least not that I can think of.
Simpson’s statement about “the most controversial” material seems to be referencing the dossier’s wild and unproven claims that the Russians had information regarding Trump and sordid sexual acts, including the widely mocked claim that Trump hired prostitutes and had them urinate on a hotel room bed.
Simpson’s claims about “names and places and people” checking out are provably false. Citing a “Kremlin insider,” the dossier, which misspelled the name of a Russian diplomat, claimed that Trump’s 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 a previous session of testimony, this one from August 14, Simpson noted that Steele purportedly deals in human intelligence, and he conceded that “by its very nature the question of whether something is accurate isn’t really asked” in human intelligence work.
That testimony, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, was released earlier this month.
Here is the relevant portion of the transcript:
So in the sort of — I know I’m repeating myself, but generally we do public records work. So we deal in documents and things that are very hard and that are useful in court or, you know, other kinds of proceedings. Chris deals in a very different kind of information, which is human intelligence, human information. So by its very nature the question of whether something is accurate isn’t really asked.
The question that is asked generally is whether it’s credible. Human intelligence isn’t good for, you know, filing lawsuits. It’s good for making decisions and trying to understand what’s going on and that’s a really valuable thing, but it’s not the same thing.
So when you evaluate human intelligence, human reporting, field reporting, source reporting, you know, it’s sort of like when you’re a journalist and you’re trying to figure out who’s telling the truth, right. You don’t really decide who’s telling the truth. You decide whether the person is credible, right, whether they know what they’re talking about, whether there’s other reasons to believe what they’re saying, whether anything they’ve said factually matches up with something in the public record.
So, you know, we would evaluate his memos based on whether he told us something we didn’t know from somewhere else that we were then able to run down.
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.
In his November testimony, Simpson revealed that instead of Fusion GPS receiving lump sums from Perkins Coie, he said he believes Fusion GPS expensed Steele’s payments directly to Perkins Coie. Simpson stated that bank records show Fusion GPS paid Steele about $160,000.
The BBC reported that the information in the dossier 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.
That purported FISA warrant is currently at the center of controversy as House Republicans seek the release of a memo described as alleging FISA surveillance abuses under the Obama administration.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Written with research by Joshua Klein.