The crazy “Trump dossier” that accused the president of staging a bed-wetting contest with Russian prostitutes could actually be the key to the whole “Russian collusion” story, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal which points out that Democrats have been acting strangely as of late.
For example, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley was set to compel Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to testify regarding their meeting with Russian operators at Trump Tower last year and Democrats were thrilled at the prospect of holding a public hearing. However, it’s been more than ten days, and, now, they’re okay with letting both men speak behind closed doors.
According to the WSJ report, the reason for this meek retreat goes back to a request by Grassley that the man who owns Fusion GPS, the company known to have hired the ex-British spy to create the debunked dossier, testify before the Senate Judiciary as part of the Russian probe as well.
Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson “might have been asked in public to reveal who hired him to put together the hit job on Mr. Trump, which was based largely on anonymous Russian sources,” notes the WSJ, but this line of questioning won’t happen since Simpson has refused to cooperate, reportedly unless he can be guaranteed that he won’t be asked about who hired him to create that dossier. And Democrats on the Judiciary Committee made a point of not signing letters in which Grassley demanded that Fusion reveals who did the hiring.
It is interesting to note that Simpson is identified as a former Wall Street Journal reporter who founded Fusion GPS in 2009. The company’s website describes itself as providing “strategic intelligence” with expertise in areas like “politics,” which is a roundabout way of saying “opposition research.”
“What if, all this time, Washington and the media have had the Russia collusion story backward? What if it wasn’t the Trump campaign playing footsie with the Vladimir Putin regime, but Democrats? The more we learn about Fusion, the more this seems a possibility,” reveals the WSJ report, which points out that as a for-hire political outfit, it is Fusion’s job to dig up dirt on certain candidates.
Mr. Grassley’s call for testimony has produced damning evidence against Fusion after Thor Halvorssen, a prominent human-rights activist, submitted sworn testimony regarding a Fusion attempt to undercut his investigation of Venezuelan corruption. Mr. Halvorssen claims Fusion “devised smear campaigns, prepared dossiers containing false information,” and “carefully placed slanderous news items” to malign him and his activity, according to the report.
Additional testimony in front of the Grassley committee from banker William Browder on Thursday revealed that he was also the target of a Fusion smear campaign, saying that the company “spread false information” about him and his efforts.
Fusion has admitted that it was hired by a law firm representing a Russian company called Prevezon. The report reveals that Prevezon employed one of the Russian operators who was at Trump Tower last year. The other Russian who attended that meeting, Rinat Akhmetshin, is reported to be a former Soviet counterintelligence officer, although he denies that. He has, however, acknowledged in court documents that opposition research is his career, and he is frequently hired by Russians connected to the government to smear opponents.
“We know that at the exact time Fusion was working with the Russians, the firm had also hired a former British spy, Christopher Steele, to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump. Mr. Steele compiled his material, according to his memos, based on allegations from unnamed Kremlin insiders and other Russians. Many of the claims sound eerily similar to the sort of ‘oppo’ Mr. Akhmetshin peddled,” according to the report, which noted that Simpson has a history of hanging out with Democrats.
Simpson uses the same attorney, Joshua Levy, as Chuck Schumer. And a letter from Grassley shows that in the past, Fusion has sheltered its clients’ true identities by filtering money through law firms or shell companies (Bean LLC and Kernel LLC).
In an effort to do damage control, Fusion stated in an email that it “did not spread false information about William Browder.” The company also claimed to be cooperating with Congress and accused President Trump and his allies of “desperately trying to smear Fusion GPS because it investigated Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.”
The WSJ report concludes, “If Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Democrats, and the media really want answers about Russian meddling, this is a far deeper well than the so-far scant case against Mr. Trump. If they refuse to dive into the story, we’ll know that the truth about Russia and the election was never what they were after.”
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