The House Intelligence Committee today released the transcript of their interview with Glenn Simpson, co-founder of political research firm Fusion GPS. Fusion is the firm responsible for the production of the now infamous Steele Dossier, the report that alleges that the Russian government coordinated with the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. The Committee interviewed Simpson in November.
Rather than ask Simpson about the Dossier specifically, Democrats focused their questioning on Russian organized crime and their methods and practices. The questions and answers seem to have laid a path of clues for investigators to follow should they so choose.
“You mentioned that you’d done a lot of work as a journalist in terms of Russian organized crime, financial crimes, organized crime more generally. What can you tell us about how the Russians launder their money…?” Democrat Adam Schiff asked.
Simpson answered that “real estate deals” are a common method Russians hide and move money all over the world. Asked whether Fusion GPS had seen evidence of questionable real estate purchases with regards to properties owned by the Trump Organization, Simpson responded that they had seen “patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money laundering.”
“There was — well, for one thing, there was various criminals were buying the properties,” Simpson said. “So there was a gangster — a Russian gangster living in Trump Tower.”
Simpson had testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last August. Republicans have long decried the dossier as an act of fiction and have heavily criticized the FBI, accusing it of using the uncorroborated report to investigate collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
In the face of that criticism, Simpson along with Fusion GPS co-founder, Peter Fritsch, called on Senate Republicans to release the transcripts in an op-ed in The New York Times earlier this month, but Committee Chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) had originally resisted those calls. The ranking Democrat on the Committee, Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, released the transcripts unilaterally.
“The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves,” she said. The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public,” Feinstein said at the time.