Fusion GPS Leaders: Chris Steele Hired Us First — to Find Manafort Dirt for Russian Oligarch

(INSET: Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson) President Trump's one-time campaign manager P
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty; MSNBC; Edit: BNN

Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm behind the infamous “pee dossier” on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, was first hired by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to obtain damaging information on Paul Manafort — weeks before the firm hired him to produce his now-discredited, conspiracy-weaving dossier.

The explosive admission was made by Fusion GSP co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch in the pair’s recently-released book — Crime in Progress — and highlighted in a Monday report by American Greatness.

“Weeks before Trump tapped Manafort to run his campaign, Christopher Steele had hired Fusion for help investigating Manafort,” write Fritsch and Simpson. “The matter had nothing to do with politics and was a typical commercial assignment.”

The Fusion GPS co-founders say their firm cut a nominal agreement to “research Manafort’s finances” for a client of Steele, now infamous for authoring a dossier alleging collusion between President Trump and the Kremlin.

Fritsch and Simpson contend that the retired Secret Intelligence Service MI6 agent’s client was Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Deripaska sought to determine whether Manafort had stolen money from him, according to the book.

“[Christopher Steele] did not disclose the ultimate client for the job, and Fusion didn’t press the issue,” claim the Fusion GSP co-founders.

American Greatness notes of the Fusion GPS-Steele deal: “That means Glenn Simpson represented not one but two Russian tycoons in 2016: At the same time Fusion was helping Steele on behalf of Deripaska, Simpson also was representing Prevezon, another company owned by a Putin-tied Russian also under investigation by the Justice Department for money laundering.”

Notably, a timeline of events shows Fusion GPS’s investigation into Manafort occurred while they sought dirt on the 2016 Trump campaign.

Steele was hired in 2016 by the opposition research firm on behalf of attorneys for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to dig up dirt on then-presidential candidate Trump. The now-discredited dossier was partly used by the FBI to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil members of the Trump campaign, such as former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page. FBI officials did not disclose explicitly to the FISA court that the dossier was funded for by the Clinton campaign and DNC, however, the bureau did indicate that the document was produced as opposition research.

Appearing on MSNBC late last month, Simpson attempted to downplay allegations that his firm’s actions during the 2016 election were part of a sweeping “Democratic conspiracy.”

“Because the Steele dossier was a piece of campaign research that was when we were working for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, they think that by pointing that out over and over again, they can delegitimize everything that happened after that. As you point out, that’s just not right. It’s not accurate to say that the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign was triggered by the Steele Dossier,” he told anchor Andrea Mitchell. “It’s also a fact that the first half of our investigation into Donald Trump that led us to hire Chris Steele was funded by the Republicans. So there was no Democratic conspiracy to frame Donald Trump. I’ve never been to Ukraine. The idea that the dossier comes from Ukraine is yet another phony conspiracy theory.”

Yet, despite Simpson’s assertions, Steele’s dossier and the FBI’s handling of its FISA applications, are now the subject of a Justice Department inspector general report, which corporate media outlets report will conclude that the bureau’s surveillance of a Trump campaign aide was justified. On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Attorney General William Barr dispute said finding. Meanwhile, the DOJ’s broader criminal investigation into the origins of Russia investigation, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, is still ongoing.


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