On Tuesday, January 9, California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) dropped a bombshell on the American public: she unilaterally released the full transcript of the Judiciary Committee’s interview with Glenn R. Simpson of Fusion GPS, the firm that produced a dossier in January 2017 outlining Russian efforts to aid the 2016 Trump Campaign.
Feinstein’s move was met with mixed reactions from the American public and political peers: some lauded her for her bravery, calling her a hero of the Resistance, while others criticized her for escalating partisan tensions with a unilateral decision.
But whether or not you agree with Feinstein’s actions, one fact remains: the contents of the 312-page document are extremely alarming.
It’s important to understand that Fusion GPS has extensive experience understanding and investigating Russian money laundering, and therefore it has an extremely high level of credibility. Similarly, Christopher Steele has training in disinformation, making it highly unlikely that any of the intelligence he gathered and reported was false.
Here are just a few highlights from the transcripts released by Senator Feinstein:
- Fusion GPS found early on that Trump had close ties to Russian organized crime. It hired Christopher Steele and other subcontractors to broadly investigate specific areas of concern.
- Steele is a former British spy hired in Spring 2016 (pre-election) whom Simpson lauded as “a person who doesn’t exaggerate, doesn’t make things up, doesn’t sell baloney.”
- Fusion GPS sent Steele to Russia to investigate Trump’s business dealings. While there, he found that Trump did indeed have a relationship with the Kremlin–and one that people were talking about freely.
- Steele found that there were plans for digital espionage and hacking to disrupt the election.
- The first dossier memo reported that Trump and his inner circle have accepted regular intelligence from the Kremlin, which qualifies as accepting help from a foreign government during an election—violating campaign laws.
- Steele reported to Fusion GPS that he had major concerns that then-candidate Trump could be a target for blackmail by a hostile foreign power. Fusion GPS gave him the go-ahead to report this information out of professional obligation.
- Completely separate from his work on the dossiers, Steele reached out to a contact at the FBI in early July to express his concerns.
- Individuals with direct knowledge of the investigation have confirmed that the federal investigation did not start with Steele’s dossier; rather, the dossier simply added to what had already been gathered.
- The FBI reached out to Steele in September (two months into the federal investigation). He met with them in Rome, shared all his findings, and was debriefed. The FBI informed him that it deemed his information credible because other intelligence (including a human source inside the Trump organization) had indicated the same thing.
- Steele ended his relationship with the FBI after an October 2016 article from The New York Times reported that the FBI had found no clear link to Russia, despite intelligence shared by Steele and others.
- The FBI did not pay Steele to continue his work after the election. No compensation to Fusion GPS was conditional of an FBI investigation into the ties between Trump and Russia. (And again, the dossier is not what started the federal investigation.)
- Simpson’s attorney Josh Levy said one source has reportedly “already been killed as a result of the publication” of the dossier.
At the very least, the statements made by Simpson in the transcript warrant serious investigation. In reality, this document may have just blown the door wide open for a Trump impeachment—along with any complicit individuals who knew about the situation and tried to cover up or discredit it.
For further reading, check out Elizabeth C. McLaughlin’s summary of the transcript here.