Defying the Republican Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Diane Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee, today unilaterally released the transcript of the interviews done with Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, which hired the British investigator who created what is now called the Trump-Russia dossier.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) had refused to authorize the release of the ten hours of closed-door testimony that Simpson gave before the committee in August, even though Simpson had repeatedly asked him to do so.
“The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves,” Feinstein said today in a statement.
“The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice,” adds Feinstein. “The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.”
Grassley had insisted Simpson had to return and testify before the committee in an open hearing instead of releasing the transcript. Simpson objected saying that he had already given detailed testimony and wanted the public to see what he had said about being hired to create the dossier, hiring ex-British spy Christopher Steele and explaining how it was financed.
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FUSION GPS statement on Feinstein's release of the Glenn Simpson interview transcript: "Fusion GPS commends Sen. Feinstein for her courage. The transcript of Glenn Simpson’s lengthy responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questioning speaks for itself."
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 9, 2018
Fusion GPS, according to Simson, was hired in mid-2016 by a lawyer for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to look into Trump’s background.
The Steele report which is now called a dossier claimed that Trump’s campaign had coordinated with the Russians at the highest level, which the president denies.
At the time Steele reached out to the FBI and told them what he found on the grounds that he felt it was a national security matter and that he had a responsibility to bring it to the feds attention.
The newly released testimony confirms that Steele believed he had proof the FBI had a whistleblower from inside the Trump campaign organization.
“Republicans have attacked the credibility of Steele’s dossier,” reports the Washington Post. “Democrats say such attacks are an effort to discredit the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert Mueller III into whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian agents to interfere in the presidential election.”
Last week, Grassley sent a letter to the Justice Department recommending that Steel be investigated for possible criminal charges for misleading the FBI.
Feinstein and Grassley have been at odds over how the Senate Judiciary should conduct what was supposed to be a bipartisan investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and the role of the Trump campaign working with the Russians.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein releases a transcript of the Judiciary Committee’s closed-door interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson over Republican objections https://t.co/73o1hcdsdf pic.twitter.com/7plULiATw4
— CNN (@CNN) January 9, 2018
Feinstein has insisted on keeping the focus on those matters and looking into why President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
Feinstein has objected to a plan by Grassley and the Republicans to spend time investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails, yet again, and looking into a 2010 deal with a Russian company under the administration to purchase American uranium mines.
When the committee’s investigation started last June, it was seen as an effort by both parties to get to the truth around the Russian-Trump connection, and it was seen as an independent threat to the president.
Since then Grassley and the Republicans have stalled and tried to turn the committee’s purpose to Clinton and the Uranium deal which – which is what President Trump wants to be pursued – even though that has been previously probed and found to have little to do with Obama or Secretary Clinton.
When the Senate committee began, it was seen as a contrast to the House Intelligence Committee probe which was led by Republicans who clearly wanted to protect the president at all costs.
Over time, the Senate investigation has also become partisan, and much of the Republican efforts seemed not only aimed at helping the president but also discrediting Mueller’s investigation and even the FBI itself.
Feinstein is a hero for breaking with the traditions of the Congress and going public with this information, to shine a light on what really happened, at least from the point of view of Fusion GPS, which itself has become a target for Republican haters.
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) January 9, 2018
The American people deserve the truth but that is not what the Republicans seem to want to find or reveal. What Feinstein has done is to circumvent the old boys club at least for now, which gives new credibility not only to her own work but also that of Special Counsel Mueller.