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Feinstein’s leak of Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson’s Senate testimony backfires

Attempt to give Trump Dossier credibility fails, instead highlighting its role in triggering Russiagate investigation

Alexander Mercouris

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An infallible sign that a bad case is collapsing under its own weight comes when its proponents show that they have misunderstood the evidence which is supposed to underpin it.

A classic example of this happened yesterday in the Russiagate case when Senator Dianne Feinstein unilaterally published the transcript of the testimony of Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS given to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 22nd August 2017.

Fusion GPS is the political consultancy firm which acting on behalf of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign commissioned from the ex British spy Christopher Steele the ‘research’ which became the Trump Dossier.

As it has become increasingly clear that the Trump Dossier is the primary evidence – indeed so far it is the only evidence – behind the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and that information from it was used by the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain surveillance warrants on members of the Trump campaign from the FISA court, hard questions have increasingly been asked about it by the Republicans in the Senate and the House.

Recently the FBI has admitted that it has been unable to verify the collusion claims in the Trump Dossier, whilst Senators Grassley and Lindsey Graham have recently written a letter to the Justice Department asking for an investigation of Christopher Steele – the Trump Dossier’s compiler – because of inconsistencies in his statements.

Grassley’s and Lindsey Graham’s letter about Steele to the Justice Department annoyed Feinstein, who has now countered by publishing Simpson’s testimony without first consulting Grassley, who is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein’s reasons for doing this are not entirely clear – her statement explaining her reasons is vague and unhelpful – but initial media reports strongly suggest that she thought Simpson’s testimony would rescue the credibility of the Trump Dossier by showing that its claims had been corroborated by a source within the Trump campaign who had independently contacted the FBI.

I say this because that is what the media reports which appeared directly after Feinstein’s publication of the transcript of Simpson’s testimony were saying.  See for example this article in Politico which says the following

Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, whose firm commissioned a controversial dossier alleging secret ties between President Donald Trump and the Kremlin, told congressional investigators last summer that the FBI found the dossier credible because an undisclosed “human source” associated with Trump had offered the bureau corroborating information.

(bold italics added)

The transcript runs to 312 pages and I doubt that the media could have read it through thoroughly when the initial reports appeared.  That suggests to me that they were directed to the relevant section of the transcript by Feinstein’s staff, who presumably interpreted it for them as Feinstein understood it.

The relevant section in Simpson’s testimony appears on pages 174 to 175 of the transcript and reads as follows

Q. You said that he told you of the meeting with the FBI in Rome in mid or late September, that

he “gave them a full briefing”?

A. A debrief I think is what he probably said, they had debriefed him. I don’t remember him articulating the specifics of that. You know, my understanding was that they would have gotten into

who his sources were, how he knew certain things, and, you know, other details based on their own intelligence.

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.

Q. And did you have any understanding then or now as to who that human intelligence source from inside the Trump campaign might have been?

MR. LEVY: He’s going to decline to answer that question.

MS. SAWYER: On what basis?

MR. SIMPSON: Security.

MR. LEVY: Security.

These words do not in fact say the FBI had been tipped off by someone working for the Trump campaign that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, though it is easy to see how Feinstein might have thought they did.

What these words actually say is that the FBI had obtained information which originated from someone within the Trump campaign which appeared to confirm that collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was taking place.

That is not of course the same thing.

We now know that what Simpson was referring to was George Papadopoulos’s drunken bragging in a London bar in May 2016 in the presence of the Australian High Commissioner, during which he was overheard saying that the Russians had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton.

In the hours that followed Feinstein’s publication of the transcript of Simpson’s testimony the fact that it was Papadopoulos Simpson had referred to was confirmed by someone ‘close to Fusion GPS’ ie. to Simpson himself. That it was Papadopoulos Simpson referred to is in fact obvious if one reads his words closely.

In a recent article for The Duran I discussed the Papadopoulos affair in detail and showed how the claim about the Russians having ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton was most likely Papadopoulos’s own invention and is in any event a false clue which leads nowhere.

In other words the information in Simpson’s testimony which Feinstein seems to have thought would corroborate the Trump Dossier actually does no such thing, and it is doubtful that anyone in Special Counsel Mueller’s team or in the Justice Department or in the FBI any longer thinks it does.

In fact the most important thing which Simpson’s testimony does is that it confirms something completely different.

This is that Steele first informed the FBI about the contents of the first entry in the Trump Dossier in late June or early July 2016, shortly after it was written on 20th June 2016, and before Wikileaks published the DNC emails on 22nd July 2016, and before the FBI received the tip-off about Papadopoulos’s bragging in the London bar from Australia, which was after the DNC emails were published.

Simpson’s extensive discussion of Steele’s first meeting with the FBI in late June or early July 2016 is set out at length on pages 160 to 170 of the transcript.

Over the course of this discussion Simpson claims that the idea of contacting the FBI first came from Steele, that Steele was concerned that the Russians were blackmailing Trump presumably with the film they had made of the Moscow hotel orgy referred to in the first entry of the Trump Dossier, and that Steele knew who to contact at the FBI and actually met with this person and briefed him about what the first entry of the Trump Dossier said.

Simpson gives the name of this FBI official who met with Steele in late June or early July 2016.  The name is redacted from the transcript but based on what we now know it was probably Peter Strzok, who was at the time the FBI’s deputy director of counter-espionage and its expert on Russia.

According to Simpson Steele then met with the FBI again in Rome in September 2016 – his interlocutor was probably again Peter Strzok – who then told him that they believed the Dossier was true because of the tip-off they had got about Papadopoulos (this is what the passage on pages 174 to 175 quoted above refers to).

This information all but confirms the primacy of the Trump Dossier in triggering the Russiagate inquiry.

Contrary therefore to what the New York Times has recently claimed, Simpson’s testimony suggests that the information about Papadopoulos was treated by the FBI as important because it was thought (wrongly) to confirm the collusion allegations in the Trump Dossier.  It was not the evidence which independently of the Trump Dossier started the inquiry.

That at least seems to me the obvious interpretation of Simpson’s words

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.

As the Trump Dossier’s credibility has collapsed the FBI and the Democrats have sought to distance themselves from it even if they cannot bring themselves to repudiate it.  Simpson’s evidence however appears to confirm its essential role in triggering the whole Russiagate scandal.

For those who are concerned about the truth or otherwise of the Russiagate collusion allegations, it is at this point useful to note that the information which originally inspired those allegations and which led to their investigation by the FBI is now admitted to be (1) the Trump Dossier, which cannot be verified, and (2) the information coming from Papadopoulos, which supposedly corroborated the Trump Dossier, but which does no such thing and which is now known to have been a false clue.

Why then if the evidence upon which the Russiagate investigation was launched has been discredited is the investigation still continuing?

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Russia’s Lukoil Halts Oil Swaps In Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades.

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Via Oilprice.com


Litasco, the international trading arm of Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil, stopped its oil swaps deals with Venezuela immediately after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and state oil firm PDVSA, Lukoil’s chief executive Vagit Alekperov said at an investment forum in Russia.

Russia, which stands by Nicolas Maduro in the ongoing Venezuelan political crisis, has vowed to defend its interests in Venezuela—including oil interests—within the international law using “all mechanisms available to us.”

Because of Moscow’s support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

“Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed,” Lukoil’s Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company’s chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn’t approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades. Analysts expect that a shortage of diluents could accelerate beginning this month the already steadily declining Venezuelan oil production and exports.

Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 59,000 bpd from December 2018 to stand at just 1.106 million bpd in January 2019, OPEC’s secondary sources figures showed in the cartel’s closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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BBC producer admits Douma attack was false flag that nearly sparked Russia – U.S. hot war (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 176.

Alex Christoforou

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BBC producer Riam Dalati believes that the scenes caught on video from a hospital in Douma, Syria were staged, all in an effort driven by jihadist terrorists and White Helmet “activists” to draw the U.S. and its allies into full on confrontation with Syria, and by extension Russia.

The viral images caused a media firestorm in 2018, showing children allegedly suffering from chemicals, as main stream media channels, like the BBC itself, called for war with Assad.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the BBC producer’s stunning admission, after a 6 month investigation, that reveals the “‘chemical attack” hospital scenes in Douma were completely staged.

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Via RT


Emotive scenes of Syrian civilians, among them crying, choking, half-naked children, dominated the airwaves in April last year after rebel-affiliated mouthpieces reported yet another “chemical attack by the Assad regime” in the town of Douma. Disturbing reports, including some from the controversial White Helmets, claimed scores of people had been killed and injured.

Mainstream media quickly picked up the horrific (but unverified) videos from a Douma hospital, where victims were treated after this “poison attack.” That hospital scene was enough to assemble a UN emergency session and prompt the US-led ‘coalition of the willing’ to rain down dozens of missiles on Damascus and other locations.

But Riam Dalati, a reputable BBC producer who has long reported from the Middle East, took the liberty of trying to sift through the fog of the Syrian war.

He believes Assad forces did attack the town, but that the much-publicized hospital scenes were staged.

After almost 6 months of investigations, I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged. No fatalities occurred in the hospital.

Anticipating further queries, he said no one from the White Helmets or opposition sources were present in Douma by the time the alleged attack had happened except for one person who was in Damascus.

Dalati also says that an attack “did happen” but that sarin, a weapons-grade nerve agent, was not used. He said, “we’ll have to wait for OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] to prove chlorine or otherwise.”

However, everything else around the attack was manufactured for maximum effect.

The journalist said Jaysh al-Islam, an Islamist faction that fought the Syrian army there, “ruled Douma with an iron fist. They co-opted activists, doctors and humanitarians with fear and intimidation.”

Dalati’s revelations could have become a bombshell news report, but instead it was met with a deafening media silence. His employer preferred to distance itself from his findings. The BBC told Sputnik in a statement that Dalati was expressing “his personal opinions about some of the video footage that emerged after the attack but has not claimed that the attack did not happen.” 

After a while, Dalati restricted access to his Twitter account which is now open only to confirmed followers.

Interestingly, his previous inputs did not sit well with the official narrative either. “Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption. Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative,” he said in a tweet which he later deleted over “the breach of editorial policy.”

In all, Dalati is not a lone voice in the wilderness. The Intercept has recently run a story that also cast doubt on the mainstream coverage of Douma, although it doesn’t doubt that the attack itself happened. While a veteran British reporter Robert Fisk suggested there was no gas attack at all, saying people there were suffering from oxygen starvation. Witnesses of the “chemical attack,” for their part, told international investigators the story was a set-up.

Moscow, which supports Damascus in its fight against terrorists, has long stated the Douma incident was staged, calling for an international OPCW inquiry. Last year, the Defense Ministry presented what it said was proof the “provocation” was to trigger Western airstrikes against Syrian government forces.

This time, the military recalled a similar 2017 incident in Khan Sheikhoun, where an alleged chemical attack took place. The ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday that a closer inspection of footage from that location clearly shows this was a set-up as well.

Now the Foreign Ministry has suggested Dalati is being silenced for voicing inconvenient views, with spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asking on Facebook: “A telling story. How about Western advocates of rights and freedoms? Had they accused BBC of censorship and pressuring the journalist?”

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President Trump schools liberals with National Emergency declaration

President Trump skillfully defeats Democrat naysayers, by increasing support for the border wall prior to declaring a National Emergency.

Seraphim Hanisch

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President Trump signed a continuing resolution to keep the US government fully running through the rest of the 2019 fiscal year. The CR contained a $1.374 bn allocation for US border security, and that money includes and pays for the completion of some fifty-five miles of border fence (or wall, or barrier, or “not-a-wall” depending on one’s preferential phrasing.) He also declared a National Emergency, theoretically freeing at least another $8 bn for the continued construction of the border wall.

Yes, it is a wall. And, yes, it is being built right now. And yes, it will be completed. The President of the United States has made this abundantly clear.

Some news reporters talk about this matter still as though there is in fact no wall now, and that there is no construction in progress on any wall. To that we can say, please watch this:

This section of the wall is going up near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. It augments a very well-designed 18 foot wall stretching from west of Santa Teresa, NM to Tornillo, Texas. If someone wants to cross the border without having to negotiate this barrier they have to go very far off the beaten path to do it. President Trump wants to make it even more difficult; in fact, he wants to have the barrier run the entire length of the US-Mexico border.

This second video says a bit more about the situation:

His campaign to get this has been brilliant in terms of getting the American people informed that there is a problem. How did he do this with a press that hates him?

Easy. He made an issue out of it, knowing that the news media has no choice but to cover the President’s every antic, and in so doing, while seeking fodder for criticism, they actually ended up reporting on the actual problem.

This has been an interesting flow of events:

  • Mainstream news slamming the President’s every statement about the need for a wall
  • The fury of Democrat leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles “Chuck” Schumer in their 100% opposition – their own temper tantrum whilst blaming that tantrum on Trump, who actually acted more like a strict parent than a bratty teenager
  • The very public presentations of Border Patrol experts that Trump arranged, the purpose being to listen to their own expert assessment of the actual needs at the border

This last issue marks a need for even the conservative press to have a wake-up call. Daniel Horowitz wrote a piece in The Conservative Review excoriating President Trump’s signing of this present deal as a “sell out”, noting that:

Trump originally demanded $25 billion for the wall. Then he negotiated himself down to $5.6 billion. Democrats balked and only agreed to $1.6 billion. This bill calls it a day at $1.375 billion, enough to construct 55 miles. But it’s worse than that. This bill limits the president’s ability to construct “barriers” to just the Rio Grande Valley sector and only bollard fencing, not concrete walls of any kind.

Daniel’s point is great for rhetoric because, of course, the President originally did promise a big beautiful concrete wall running the entire length of the border.

However, he missed the point about using bollard-style walls that can be seen through – the Border Patrol agents themselves said this kind of wall is to their advantage. A solid wall prevents natural visibility and the agents were getting rocks thrown at them from people they could not see on the other side. A see-through capability means that people approaching the wall on the other side can be seen and tracked.

This marks an example of conservative ideology being too strongly fixed, just as the liberals’ ideology is fixed at the level of a four-year old child refusing to let someone else play with his toys.

They both do not understand that President Trump is not concerned with ideology. He is concerned with useful results, which he got in this deal.

Now about that National Emergency. Is this really the constitutional crisis Trump’s detractors say it is?

Probably not.

It has been widely reported that the US is currently running under some 31 other national emergencies, and that the one President Trump declared makes it number 32. The rhetoric from the news media and Democrats is centered around the idea that no President has ever used this power to get money that only the Congress can allot.

We also probably already know that this is an irrelevant point – the President is in charge of the national security of the nation, and he can and must do what he can to ensure it. The huge numbers of illegal crossings, nearly half a million in 2018 were largely apprehended and released into the United States, rather than deported. Half a million is far less than the 1.6 million that came through in 2000, but it is also not zero. Half a million is the size of the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

The distractors in the Democrat party and media do not want anyone comprehending this fact, so they try to divert and dissuade. But President Trump has not let any of this get past him. In a media event, the President had parents and relatives of people who were murdered by illegal aliens in a direct face-off with none other than CNN’s provocateur-in-chief Jim Acosta, and the reporter was forced to listen to what these family members had to say about their convictions that the president was correct in his:

Trump pointed to angel moms in attendance, asking them for their thoughts.

“You think I’m creating something? Ask these incredible women who lost their daughters and their sons,” Trump said. “OK, Because your question is a very political question because you have an agenda. You’re CNN. You’re fake news.”

Trump told Acosta the statistics he provided were “wrong” and told him to take a look at the federal prison population for proof.

“See how many of them,percentage-wise, are illegal aliens,” Trump said. “Just see, go ahead and see. It’s a fake question.”

Acosta was subsequently confronted by the angel moms in attendance, after the press conference. As angel moms confronted the CNN reporter, he invited them to appear on the network in the background of a live shot.

“There is no attempt whatsoever to diminish what they’ve gone through, or take away what they’ve gone through, but as you heard in that question that I had with the president … it was really about the facts and the data,” Acosta said on CNN following his exchange with Trump. “Some of these folks came up to me right after this press conference … they’re holding up these pictures of loved ones who lost their lives.”

An angel mom then discussed that a previously deported illegal alien murdered her son.

“President Trump is completely correct on this issue, we need to protect this country,” the angel mom told Acosta.

Acosta actually was a victim of his own passions when he went to the border to a place where the bollard wall presently stands and reported that nothing was happening there. It seemed that he was expecting that there were supposed to be angry mobs on the other side trying to get through. However, no one was there, because it is rather pointless to try to get over this wall at this place. Even liberals were forced to acknowledge Mr. Acosta’s strategic miscalculation.

The new national emergency is about getting results. If we were concerned only with smooth and impressive politics, we could only remark on the President’s success in maneuvering the Democrats (not all of them were slavishly going with the Pelosi-Schumer stance) and his ability to do what he does best – getting his message to the American people, and giving them information with which to decide what they want.

This campaign is not over, but this particular battle appears to have been won with a lot of hard work.

Slowly, oh, so slowly, it would seem that the forces of common sense are making some headway in America.

 

 

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