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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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From McCain to Brennan, Deep State soft coup against Trump picks up steam (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 59.

Alex Christoforou

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After Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, the Deep State smells blood, and is moving quickly to depose of US President Donald Trump.

Government officials and mainstream media puppets from left and right are condemning the US President over his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

Leading the charge are the usual Deep State, suspects, starting with John McCain and ending with the man many believe is behind the entire Trump-Russia collusion hoax, former Obama CIA boss John Brennan.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou examine the soft coup aimed at removing US President Trump by the November 2018 midterms. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via The Independent

Conservative John McCain, who is facing a rare and terminal brain cancer, unleashed a damning statement against Mr Trump’s conference with Mr Putin, describing it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin,” he said.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realise his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbours, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.”

The conservative senator’s comments arrived after the US president declined to name Russia as the adversary behind coordinated attacks on the 2016 presidential election.

While discussing whether he thought Russia was behind hacks against the 2016 election — as the US intelligence community has determined —the president said: “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

“Dan Coats [the US Director of National Intelligence] said its Russia. President Putin says its not Russia,” said Mr Trump. “I don’t know why it would be…..I have confidence in both parties. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

That set off a wave of condemnations from Democrats and Republicans alike.

“President Trump’s press conference with Putin was an embarrassing spectacle,” Bernie Sanders wrote in a tweet. “Rather than make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable, Trump instead accepted Putin’s denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community. This is not normal.”

Jeff Flake, one of the only frequent Republican critics of Mr Trump in Congress, said the conference was “shameful” in a statement he posted across social media.

“I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression,” he said. “This is shameful.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan released a statement calling for Mr Trump’s impeachment and describing his comments as “treasonous”.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours,'” Mr Brennan wrote on Twitter. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

Elizabeth Warren also slammed the president for failing to hold Mr Putin accountable, writing on Twitter: “Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded.”

“Disgraceful,” she concluded.

However, Mr Trump’s typical roster of critics weren’t the only legislators rebuking his bizarre denials of US intelligence. Lindsey Graham also criticised Mr Trump’s performance, adding that his denial of US intelligence will “be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves”.

“Missed opportunity by President Trump to firmly hold Russia accountable for 2016 meddling and deliver a strong warning regarding future elections,” he said.

The Republican senator added a suggestion to Mr Trump: review the soccer ball Mr Putin gave to him as a gift for “listening devices” and “never allow it in the White House.”

Thomas Pickering, a regarded statesman and the former US ambassador to Russia, told MSNBC that he was in utter disbelief after the press conference was held on Monday.

“It’s a breathtaking denial of something that clearly is so obviously true,” he said. ”it represents the epitome of President Trump’s effort at self-promotion over the notion of defending the national interest of the United States.”

Mark Warner, a Virginia senator, also suggested Mr Trump committed a clear violation of his responsibilities as president.

Mr Trump committed “a breach of his duty to defend our country against its adversaries,” Mr Warner said. ”If the President cannot defend the United States and its interests in public, how can we trust him to stand up for our country in private?”

Meanwhile the latest Deep State leak, via the NYT, claims that US President Trump was told by Obama holdovers that Putin was involved in cyberattacks during the 2016 election. US intelligence told Trump this information days before the inauguration.

Via The Gateway Pundit

The same liberal hacks who illegally leaked this information want Americans to trust them as they continue to destroy this duly elected president.

President Trump on Wednesday told CBS anchor Jeff Glor that he has no confidence in the tainted intelligence by far left hacks Clapper, Brennan and Comey.

And, once again, the timing of this leak is not an accident.

Liberals are outraged that President Trump refused to chest bump Putin in Helsinki.

The deep state leaked this information to pile on the Republican president.

The New York Times reported…

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

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Russia ranks HIGHER than Switzerland in these areas of doing business

Some curious things happened with several businesspeople who attended World Cup events in Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

One of them was a distinctly renewed interest in doing business inside the country, and another was the realization to what extent perceptions have been tainted by media and political rhetoric directed against any real or imagined nastiness attributed to Russia these days.

These past few weeks have been invaluable, at the very least by affording a clear picture of Russia through which almost all anxiety-ridden preconceptions were illuminated and dispelled. More disturbing was the fact that the several businesspeople I was dealing with were furious. They were livid for being played for fools, and felt victimized by the dismally untrue picture painted about Russia and Russians in their home countries, both by their own politicians and the press.

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Most felt that they have been personally sanctioned by their own countries, betrayed through lack of clear unbiased information enabling them to participate and profit from Russia opportunities these past three growth years in spite of “sanctions”.

The door to doing good business in Russia has been and is open, and has been opening wider year after year. That is not just “highly likely”, but fact. Consistently improving structures, means and methods to conduct business in Russia sustainably, transparently and profitably are now part of the country’s DNA. It is a process, which has been worked on in the west for more than a century, and one, which Russia has only started these past 18 years.

True, there are sanctions, counter-sanctions, and regulations governing them that must be studied carefully. However if you are not a bank or doing business with those persons deemed worthy of being blacklisted by some countries “sanctions list”, in reality there are no obstacles that cannot be positively addressed and legally overcome despite the choir of political nay-sayers.

READ MORE: Russia just dumped $80 BILLION in US debt

The days of quickly turning over Russia opportunities into short-term cash are rapidly fading, they are a throwback to the 1990’s. Today the major and open opportunities are in the areas for Foreign Direct Investments. The nature of FDI is long term to make regularly recurring sustainable returns on investment.

Long term, Russia always was and increasingly confirms that it is a vibrant and attractive market. There is a significant consumer market with spending power, a well-educated workforce, a wealth of resources and the list goes on. The economic obstacles encountered have largely been imposed from without, and not from the dynamics and energies of the Russian economy itself.

Eventually sanctions will end, although the timeline is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile business continues, and any long-term engagement within Russia by establishing a working presence will yield both short and long-term investment rewards. These will only be amplified when the sanctions regimes are removed. In any event, these aspects are long-term investment decisions and one of the criteria in any risk assessment.

For some added perspective, Russia is ranked by the Financial Times as the No.2 country in Europe in terms of capital investments into Europe. It has a 2017 market share of 9% (US$ 15.9 billion) and includes 203 business projects. This is 2% higher than 2016 and better that 2014/2015 when sanctions were imposed.

Another item of perspective is the Country Risk Premium. All investors consider this when calculating the scope for long-term return on investments. What may surprise some is that Russia is no longer ranked as a very high-risk country. For comparisons sake: The risk premium for Germany is zero (no extra risk), the risk premium for Italy is 2.19%, and for Russia, it is 2.54%. When compared to politically popular investment destinations like Ukraine the risk premium is 10.4%  – food for thought. Bottom line is that the risks of investing in Russia are a smidge higher than investing in Italy.

Russia is ranked 35 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The ranking of Russia improved to 35 in 2017 from 40 in 2016 and from 124 in 2010. It may also surprise some to learn that as concerns protecting the rights of minority investors, paying taxes, registering property and some other aspects of the World Bank comparisons, Russia comes out better than Switzerland (See: Rankings).

From operational standpoints, establishing an invested presence in Russia does not mean one must adopt Russian managerial methods or practices. The advantages for established foreign companies is that their management culture is readily applied and absorbed by a smart and willing workforce, enabling a seamless integration given the right training and tools.

The trend towards the ultimate globalization of business despite trade wars, tariffs, sanctions and counter-sanctions is clear. The internet of the planet, the blockchain and speed of information exchange makes it so whether we wish it or not. Personally, I hope that political globalization remains stillborn as geopolitics has a historical mandate to tinker with and play havoc with international trade.

Russia occupies a key strategic position between Europe and Asia. The “west” (US/Europe) have long had at times rather turbulent relationships with China. At the same time the Chinese are quite active investors in both the US and Europe, and western companies are often struggling to understand how to deal with China.

The answer to this conundrum is Russia: this is where East and West will ultimately come together with Russia playing a pivotal role in the relations between the west and China. At the end of the day, and taking the strategic long-term economic view, is what both Chinese and Western companies are investing in when they open their activities in Russia.

If long-term commitment and investment in Russia were simply a matter of transferring funds then I would not be bothering with this opinion article. Without a doubt, there are structural issues with investing in Russia. A still evolving and sometimes unclear rule of law, difficulties obtaining finance for investments directed towards Russia, the unique language and culture of business in the country. Nevertheless, companies that have an understanding and vision of global strategy will manage with these issues and have the means to mitigate them.

Money and other invested resources do not and should not play politics; any investment case when evaluated on objective financial criteria will reveal its fit, or lack of, within a company’s global strategic business objectives. The objective criteria for Russia over any long term horizon is both convincing and strong. This has been repeated by all of the businesspeople I have met with these past few weeks. Without doubt we shall see some new companies coming into the Russian market and objectively exploring the gains their playing fair business football here will yield.

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Media meltdown hits stupid levels as Trump and Putin hold first summit (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 58.

Alex Christoforou

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It was, and still remains a media meltdown of epic proportions as that dastardly ‘traitor’ US President Donald Trump decided to meet with that ‘thug’ Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Of course these are the simplistic and moronic epitaphs that are now universally being thrown around on everything from Morning Joe to Fox and Friends.

Mainstream media shills, and even intelligent alternative news political commentators, are all towing the same line, “thug” and “traitor”, while no one has given much thought to the policy and geo-political realities that have brought these two leaders together in Helsinki.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou provide some real news analysis of the historic Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, without the stupid ‘thug’ and ‘traitor’ monikers carelessly being thrown around by the tools that occupy much of the mainstream media. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

And if you though that one summit between Putin and Trump was more than enough to send the media into code level red meltdown, POTUS Trump is now hinting (maybe trolling) at a second Putin summit.

Via Zerohedge

And cue another ‘meltdown’ in 3…2…1…

While arguments continue over whether the Helsinki Summit was a success (end of Cold War 2.0) or not (most treasonous president ever), President Trump is convinced “The Summit was a great success,” and hints that there will be a second summit soon, where they will address: “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

However, we suspect what will ‘trigger’ the liberal media to melt down is his use of the Stalin-esque term “enemy of the people” to describe the Fake News Media once again…

 

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