Glenn Simpson and the intelligence firm he founded, Fusion GPS, have presented themselves as disinterested researchers when it comes to their role in the Trump dossier and the 2016 election. But Simpson’s recently released testimony shows that at the same time he was encouraging the FBI to investigate Trump, he was actively trying to steer the FBI away from further investigation of the Clintons.
In his August 2017 testimony before Congress, Glenn Simpson admits Christopher Steele reached out to the FBI following the reopening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation in October 2016. Steele and Simpson had previously contacted the FBI regarding material they had collected on the Trump campaign — a project with no other direct tie to the Clinton investigation. Simpson claims the reopening of the Clinton probe sparked concerns on his part that the FBI was “being manipulated for political ends” by pro-Trump entities (Simpson testimony, p 179).
Yet it was Steele (with Simpson’s knowledge) who handed Clinton-funded opposition research to the FBI and then, as Simpson admits, reached out again to investigators to cast doubt on the Clinton investigation:
There was some sort of interaction, I think it was probably telephonic that occurred after Director Comey sent his letter to Congress reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. That episode, you know, obviously created some concern that the FBI was intervening in a political campaign in contravention of long-standing Justice Department regulation. So it made a lot of people, including us, concerned about what the heck was going on at the FBI. So, you know, we began getting questions from the press about, you know, whether they were also investigating Trump and, you know, we encouraged them to ask the FBI that question. You know, I think — I’m not sure we’ve covered this fully, but, you know, we just encouraged them to ask the FBI that question. (Simpson testimony, Page 178)
Even more strangely, Simpson describes Steele cutting off contact with the FBI because he didn’t understand what was going on internally:
Sometime thereafter the FBI — I understand Chris severed his relationship with the FBI out of concern that he didn’t know what was happening inside the FBI and there was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on. So he stopped dealing with them. (Simpson testimony, Page 179)
It seems very odd that Fusion GPS, or at least Steele, would expect to have any understanding of internal affairs at the FBI, especially regarding a different case from they were supplying information on. Earlier in his testimony, Simpson describes Steele’s initial meeting with the FBI:
Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization. (Simpson testimony, Page 175)
This means the FBI divulged information about an ongoing investigation to Steele. This might not be unusual on its own (especially if agents had an existing working relationship with their source), but starts to stand out when taking Fusion GPS’ other connections into account.
During the 2016 campaign, Fusion GPS employed the wife of senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr as a subcontractor on the Trump project. Bruce Ohr met with Christopher Steele at some point during the 2016 campaign, then met with Simpson in November 2016, following the election. Also at this time, Peter Strzok, an FBI agent involved in the Clinton and Trump investigations, had sent a number of pro-Clinton text messages to a fellow FBI employee, including one discussing an “insurance policy” against Trump.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, also client of Fusion GPS at the time, met with the Trump campaign during the election, sparking further interest in the campaign’s ties to Russia. Simpson claims that he had no knowledge of this meeting (despite meeting with her before and after) and that his work for her was unrelated to his work on the Trump dossier (Simpson Testimony, p 133).