LO UNTO US A FUSION GPS TRANSCRIPT IS GIVEN!
Your British spy boyfriend Christopher Steele
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, KICKIN' SOME ASS RIGHT NOW! As we type this, Senator Feinstein is sitting in a dog-and-pony show White House meeting talking about DACA and Trump's damn border wall, and that is the EXACT moment she chose to go ahead and release the testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned British spy Christopher Steele to do the work that became known as THE DODGY DOSSIER, demanded last week in a New York Times op-ed that the transcript of Simpson's testimony be released, but GOP members of the Congressional intelligence and judiciary committees DIDN'T WANNA, because that would make it more difficult for them to engage in their public witch hunt against Fusion GPS and the dossier.
How is that even fair? How can these complicit, compromised motherfuckers obstruct justice for Donald Trump in the Russia investigation if they can't impugn the integrity of the spy who uncovered a lot of intelligence related to the conspiracy, and of the intelligence firm that hired him?
Senator Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said months ago that he didn't see why the transcript shouldn't be released, but THEN SUDDENLY after Fusion GPS published their op-ed, and after Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse asked him to release it, Grassley changed his mind and said "I'M PUTTING RAW CORN IN MY BOTTOM RIGHT NOW, I DON'T WANNA!"
Apparently, Feinstein, the Democratic vice chair of the committee, is tired of this horseshit. SO LO UNTO US A FUSION GPS TRANSCRIPT IS GIVEN. Shall we read it together and live-blog it for the rest of the afternoon? Why the fuck not.
Fix yourself a pot of coffee and get a blanket, we're going to be here a while!
2:05: Oh hi! We are 25 pages into the thing, and the big thing we can tell you so far is that investigators for the GOP go DIRECTLY into trying to GOTCHA! Simpson into admitting that Fusion GPS its their clients (HILLARY!) they can use their research to trick the FBI into starting investigations (TRUMP RUSSIA HOAX!). Simpson is like "not so much, but thank you for your nice question!"
2:17: 31 pages in! GOP Congressional investigators are trying VERY HARD to lead Simpson into ADMITTING! that somehow Fusion GPS's work in a case representing the Russian company Prevezon was somehow related to Fusion GPS's work with Christopher Steele, FOR AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT CLIENT. If the GOP can prove that, then it was Hillary Clinton and Fusion GPS colluding with the Russians! This is the GOP's conspiracy theory about Fusion GPS, in a nutshell. The GOP is kinda stupid, or they think you are (or both).
Here's how "Davis," the GOP investigator, frames the question:
"Levy" is Simpson's lawyer, by the way. Note how he hasn't even gotten to Steele yet.
Wonkette explained this GOP conspiracy theory in detail here.
2:35: We are on page 51 (out of 312) and in a long section about Bill Browder, who used to be the biggest foreign investor in Russia, and who has championed the Magnitsky Acts around the world, the laws punishing human rights-abusing oligarchs in Russia for the prison murder of tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed MASSIVE corruption in Putin's regime. (More on that here! Same link as last time!)
We don't need to paste you a bunch of quotes, but suffice it to say Glenn Simpson seems to believe Browder is pretty corrupt his own self, but just happens to be on the right side of shit when it comes to the Magnitsky Acts. Is he right? Wonkette ain't know! But we will say we've always thought there was something at least slightly off about Bill Browder -- maybe he is just very self-aggrandizing? -- but we have kept it ourselves, because "there's something off about that guy" is not a #JournalismFact on the level of what we share here at Wonkette, allegedly.
2:49: "Mr. Simpson, do you make up the answers for your investigations, or do you follow the facts where they lead you?"
"Thank you for asking that very obvious question, Democratic investigator person! We are professionals and we go where the facts lead us!"
DEVIN NUNES, YOU FUCKNUGGET, ARE YOU READING THIS?
2:52: Still on page 59:
"Mr. Simpson, when you have two different clients, do you put them in a bathtub together so they can share their secrets with each other?"
"Actually, that's not our thing! It's kind of like how a law firm can have more than one client at a time, or a Big Lots can have more than one shopper looking for big sales in the store at the same time."
"So the GOP's whole thing about how you worked on the Russian case and ALSO retained Chris Steele to look into Trump means you were COLLUDING WITH THE RUSSIANS TO HELP HILLARY is kind of bullshit?"
"Thank you, Mr. Simpson."
3:02: Page 67. Way back in 2015, when Republicans were still funding Fusion GPS's look at Donald Trump, looooooong before Christopher Steele had been retained, Glenn Simpson and his team were already looking into connections between Trump and Russian organized crime, and the name "Felix Sater" was involved. WHY DID REPUBLICANS COLLUDE WITH FUSION GPS TO EXPOSE TRUMP'S OBVIOUS RUSSIAN ORGANIZED CRIME LINKS?
FYI, Simpson says Felix Sater -- Trump's business partner guy, who openly bragged they could use the Moscow Trump Tower deal (that never got off the ground) as a quid pro quo for Russia helping Trump get elected -- is connected to the "dominant crime family" of Russia, which has a "robust U.S presence." How odd, right?!
That would be the Mogilevich crime family, by the way.
3:14: "Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Fusion GPS is a Demon-crat firm linked to Demon-crats? Is that true?"
"GAH, WHY IS SHE ALWAYS SUCH A LYING POOT LIPS?"
"Thank you, Mr. Simpson."
3:24: Page 84: Why did Fusion GPS hire Chris Steele to investigate Trump's Russian connections?
SIMPSON: Because Steele is the best and Trump went on one million business trips to Russia and yet never inked a deal with Russia, isn't that fucking weird?
3:27: Finally, the Democratic investigator asks the question on every Republican's mind. Was Chris Steele involved with the work for the Russian clients on the case that involved the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Donnie Trump Jr. in Trump Tower?
"No, dumb dumbs, what part of LITERALLY UNRELATED does the GOP not understand?"
3:32: By the way, if you were curious if Chuck Grassley is SO MAD we are reading this right now, the answer is he is SO MAD.
3:40: Page 89:
"Mr. Simpson, does Chris Steele know Russians like to feed disinformation, or is he A Idiot?"
"HE WAS THE HEAD RUSSIANIST FOR MI6, MY GOD."
"Thank you, Mr. Simpson."
3:49: On page 96, we hand the questioning back to Republican investigators, so STAY TUNED FOR IMMINENT BULLSHIT.
3:55: And now pages upon pages of bullshit questions about Bill Browder and the Prevezon case, which, WHILE VERY INTERESTING WE ARE SURE, doesn't seem related to the matter at hand. It's almost like Chuck Grassley directed his investigators to waste Glenn Simpson's time chasing squirrels instead of doing an actual investigation into Trump and Russia.
4:01: Page 107:
OMG GLENN SIMPSON HAS MET THE RUSSIAN SPY FROM DON JR'S TRUMP TOWER MEETING! (For reasons completely unrelated to the Steele Dossier thing.) AND HILLARY CLINTON WAS PAYING FUSION GPS! THIS MUST MEAN HILLARY IS THE REAL RUSSIA! (No it doesn't.)
4:08: Page 114:
GOP IDIOT: Do you know Natalia Veselnitskaya?"
SIMPSON: DUH. Have we not been over this?"
GOP IDIOT: DID YOU SEND HER TO TRUMP TOWER TO ENSNARE POOR DONALD TRUMP JUNIOR?"
SIMPSON: Jesus Christ, people, two different clients. TWO FUCKING CLIENTS!
4:18: Something that strikes us as we read about Glenn Simpson's work with Fusion GPS on the Prevezon case, which put him in contact with so many of the Russians lobbying against the Magnitsky Acts -- presumably he ran into Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the process! -- is just how impartial he really is with his clients. Somebody like Rohrabacher (who is EAT UP with Russian connections -- click that to read about his intersections with all this!) could very easily tell Devin Nunes and his GOP colleagues calling for Fusion GPS's head over the DODGY DOSSIER to shut the fuck up, because they know better ON A FIRSTHAND BASIS, but that doesn't serve their purposes of protecting Donald Trump, now does it?
4:25: JUST TO BE CLEAR FOR THE 80TH TIME, the Republican investigators would like to know if Fusion GPS set up the Trump Tower meeting with Junior and Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. AND FOR THE 80TH TIME, the answer is NYET! (p. 133):
We are starting to understand, we think, why the GOP latched onto this conspiracy theory. The Prevezon case was ending JUST AS the Trump Tower meeting happened on June 9, 2016. Veselnitskaya was in America to do that on the same trip as she was doing shit to wrap up the Prevezon case.
But again, that stuff is ENTIRELY UNRELATED to Fusion GPS commissioning Chris Steele to do some spying FOR A WHOLE DIFFERENT CLIENT.
4:32: Now, on page 138, it is Democrats' turn to ask questions again. Hopefully it will get good again!
4:44: Just a reminder on page 148 that Chris Steele's reputation is UNIMPEACHABLE according to LITERALLY EVERYBODY:
But sure, Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, LOCK HIM UP.
4:53: (Pp. 155-160ish) An interesting thing to note here is that, just as Fusion GPS was getting its first memos from Christopher Steele, the fruits of the Russian operation were starting to bear public fruit, and thus providing credibility to the Chris Steele memos Simpson was receiving. It was like he was seeing intelligence about what was happening in real time, specifically the hacks of the DNC and so on. Meanwhile, the very first memo of what became the dossier, the one that said Russia had been cultivating Trump for years, provided some context as to why Trump was cosntantly saying SUCH WEIRD SHIT about Russia on the campaign trail.
Just food for thought.
4:59: Also, MORE CONTEXT. Simpson says by the time Fusion GPS had gotten Steele's second memo, Steele had already gone to the FBI with what he had found in relation to his first memo, because "In his mind this is already a criminal matter, there's already a potential national security matter here." WHOA IF TRUE.
You get that? INDEPENDENT OF FUSION GPS, Steele the British spy, who is more of an American patriot than Devin Nunes or Chuck Grassley will EVER be, is saying ACHTUNG! to the FBI about what he's learning. But yeah, LOCK HIM UP.
5:05: More on Chris Steele The British being a fucking American patriot from p. 159:
So Steele said, hey, I will handle the taking it to the FBI part, and Simpson agreed, because it was "potentially a crime in progress." (WHICH IT WAS.)
5:17: OK, so here is a part that EVERYBODY is talking about, regarding a "human source" from inside the Trump camp who seemed to corroborate what Chris Steele was learning about. This is page 175:
Chris Steele is briefing a lead FBI dude in Rome in September of 2016, and the FBI thinks he might be right about his shit because of a "human source from inside the Trump organization." Simpson alluded to this in his op-ed in NYT last week. When that op-ed came out last week, the assumption was that he was talking about George Papadopoulos.
BUT WAS HE? Seems like could be maybe! We didn't know hardly anything about Papadopoulos until just recently, but we know he's been a cooperating witness for quite a while. We know he drunk-bragged to an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that the Russians were about to drop a bunch of shit on Hillary Clinton. Australia tells the US about Papadopoulos in July of 2016.
But just after, Simpson seems to suggest that the "source" is talking to the FBI on a voluntary basis at that point:
Now, there is some hearsay here. Simpson says Steele says FBI dude said X, and so forth. But this seems to corroborate the idea that it was George Papadopoulos's intel that kicked off the investigation, NOT the DODGY DOSSIER, which at that point consisted of just a few memos, and hadn't even been bound together into a DODGY DOSSIER yet.
The only question we have is, was it just the Australians' intel on Papadopoulos that kicked it off, or was Papadopoulos cooperating ALL THE WAY BACK THEN, mere months after his May 2016 drunk-brag? Put differently, did the FBI corner Papadopoulos soon after Australia made contact with the FBI and turn him? HMMMMMM!
Simpson added just after that in his testimony that he was being really careful about revealing who that source was, because "obviously it's been in the news a lot lately that people who get in the way of the Russians tend to get hurt."
WHOA IF TRUE, and it's obviously true. (Also, later in the testimony -- we haven't gotten there, but we know it happened because we are psychic! -- Simpson's lawyer notes that somebody has actually been killed because of the publication of the dossier, as if to underscore the point that the Russians are murderous fucks when it comes to covering their tracks.)
5:36: When and why did Chris Steele stop talking to the FBI? WELL! First, Simpson and Steele were like WHAT THE FUCK when James Comey sent his letter 11 days before the election about "BUT HILLARY CLINTON'S EMAILS!"
Oh yes! When former NYT reporter Eric Lichtblau talked to "somebody at FBI" who said "Nope, no Russia, no Russia, YOU ARE THE RUSSIA!" and immediately copy/pasted whatever his "source" said and called it "reporting." Meanwhile, rogue FBI people in the New York field office sure seemed like they were taking direction from Rudy Giuliani and Erik Prince and leaking that Hillary Clinton was about to be indicted and they were going to LOCK HER UP! Of course, that was bullshit, as the FBI cleared her name a few days later, just in time for her to barely lose the Electoral College.
If we were Christopher Steele, we probably woulda stopped talking to the FBI right about then too. (By the by, it was just a bit before that when Steele got in touch with David Corn of Mother Jones, who published his story about the dossier mere hours before Lichtblau's giant piece of shit. Steele was worried.)
6:00: Page 184, wherein Glenn Simpson's lawyer calls out Patrick Davis, Chuck Grassley's lead investigator, for trying not to giggle as he attempts to NAIL Fusion GPS for COLLUDING WITH RUSSIA, as opposed to, ya know, just working for a client:
Again, Prevezon is a Russian company Fusion GPS was doing some work for in a COMPLETELY UNRELATED CASE.
6:15: Oh fucking hell:
WERE YOU HOME ALONE THE WHOLE NIGHT OF BENGHAZI, HILLARY?
6:19: Page 196: To be clear, Simpson wasn't saying Chris Steele's FBI contact specifically blabbed to him about the FBI's source within the Trump organization/campaign:
6:27: Not going to paste a bunch of shit, but it's clear around page 200 that the Republicans are REALLY FIXATED on what information Chris Steele and Glenn Simpson shared with reporters and when (which is obviously related to the bullshit criminal referral filed by Senators Graham and Grassley). Because that's germane to whether a hostile foreign power conspired with the Trump campaign to steal the American election.
Really. It is.
"Did Fusion GPS collude with the FBI to hurt Trump's feelings?"
"Did Hillary say she wouldn't give Fusion GPS any moneys if the FBI didn't start an investigation into Trump?"
6:46: Page 226:
GOP IDIOT: Naw really, did the FBI collude with Fusion GPS to hurt Trump's feelings?
GOP IDIOT: But Steele talked to the FBI!
SIMPSON: It's called "IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING," you fucking moron!
6:54: Again, not pasting a bunch of shit here (BECAUSE I'M GETTING TIRED AND RUMOR HAS IT MORE NEWS IS COMING TONIGHT, OH MY GOD) but around page 238, you see Glenn Simpson emphasizing more and more that when Fusion GPS would get memos from Steele, Fusion GPS would do research to corroborate things Steele was finding. SPOILER: They were able to corroborate things!
6:57: LOL everybody thinks Carter Page is stupid and dumb and weird and bad (pp. 240-241):
7:10: "To be clear, is Sarah Huckabee Sanders full of shit?"
7:13: Golly, we'd suggest if Devin Nunes wants to investigate whether Fusion GPS colluded with Russia colluded with Christopher Steele colluded with Hitlery Benghazi Clinton, maybe he ought to just investigate THIS FUCKING LIVEBLOG WE ARE NOT DONE WITH YET (p. 258):
If you are thinking, "MAN, those questions sound stupid when you ask them like that," you are right, and that's why the DEMOCRATIC investigator is asking them that way, to expose her GOP colleagues as idiots.
OK, 50 pages left, speedreading like a motherfucker.
7:24: Page 279, STOP ASKING GLENN SIMPSON TO REVEAL HIS SOURCES, YOU GOP MOTHERFUCKERS, GODDAMMIT, DO YOU NOT KNOW SOMEBODY HAS LITERALLY BEEN KILLED OVER THIS DOSSIER ALREADY?
7:30: The last 30 pages of this transcript are literally Glenn Simpson's lawyers telling the GOP investigators to lick their balls.
7:32: Page, 287, the very stupidest GOP investigator question in the entire testimony:
YOU SAY U R NOT A DEMOCRAT FIRM, BUT YOU INVESTIGATED MITT ROMNEY IN 2012, SO IT'S ONLY FAIR IF YOU ALSO INVESTIGATED BARACK OBUMMER, DID YOU EVEN LOOK FOR HIS BIRF CERTIFICATE?
7:52: ONE MORE TIME, and then we think we're about done, but the SAME GOP INVESTIGATOR would like to ask AGAIN for Simpson to prove he is not a "Democrat-linked firm." So please, Glenn Simpson, did you ever look into whether Obama had gay Muslim babies in Kenya with Hillary Clinton? WELL DID YOU?
7:56: And we are done! It only took us five hours! But we are not bitching, because Glenn Simpson had to sit there and let dumb GOP investigators ask him questions for 10 HOURS.
Now let's drink a toast to Senator Dianne Feinstein for being a fucking boss and releasing this just to spite Chuck Grassley. Can't imagine why he wouldn't have wanted the public to read it, except for it shows just what obstructionist fucks Republicans are being about this, and what absolute horseshit their witch hunt against THE DODGY DOSSIER really is.
Good liveblog, Wonkette! Pay for liveblogs like this by clicking the button below!
Follow Evan Hurst on Twitter RIGHT HERE.
Wonkette is fully paid for by YOU! Please click here to pay Wonkette's salary.
Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.
Follow him on Twitter RIGHT HERE.