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California Democratic says "only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public"
U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat and ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, released on Tuesday the complete transcript of testimony given by Glenn Simpson, co-founder of the political research firm Fusion GPS, which originally commissioned the now infamous "Steele Dossier" which documents unsubstantiated yet explosive claims about the relationship between President Donald Trump and Russian officials.
In a statement released alongside more than 300 pages of Simpson's tesimony(pdf), Feinstein said, "The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves. 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."
Among the explosive highlights contained in the transcript, as the Daily Beast reports, was that Simpson told the committee how the FBI had told Steele they had a "walk-in" whistleblower "from within the Trump campaign or organization" who may have offered damning evidence to law enforcement officials.
Though released on her own accord without permission of the GOP-controlled committee, Feinstein's decision comes days after it was learned that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had issued a criminal referral to the Department of Justice for Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled the dossier at the request of GPS.
In an op-ed in the New York Times last week, Simpson, along with fellow GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch, said publicly they wanted the testimony given to the committee released. "Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm's testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right," Simpson and Fritsch wrote. "It's time to share what our company told investigators."
The two men said they were proud of their work -- conducted at the behest of paying clients -- but said it was time to "stop chasing rabbits" in terms of misinformation about the role they played in creating the controversial dossier and how its existence and contents have been manipulated in the ever-growing spectacle of the Trump-Russia probe. "The public still has much to learn about a man with the most troubling business past of any United States president," the two men concluded. "Congress should release transcripts of our firm's testimony, so that the American people can learn the truth about our work and most important, what happened to our democracy."
Kevin Breuninger at CNBC detailed other key highlights contained in the transcript as these:
- Steele, Simpson testified, told him the FBI also had a source inside the Trump operation, although he wasn't sure whether that meant the presidential campaign or the Trump Organization. The bureau was more inclined to believe Steele's information, he said, "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."
- Simpson touched on how the Trump Organization handles paying taxes: "One of the things we found out was that, you know, when it comes to paying taxes, Donald Trump claims to not have much stuff. At least the Trump organization. So they would make filings with various state and local authorities saying that their buildings weren't worth much."
- Simpson discussed Trump's relationship with Sater: "This was something he didn't want to talk about and testified under oath he wouldn't know Felix if he ran into him in the street. That was not true. He knew him well and, in fact, continued to associate with him long after he learned of Felix's organized crime ties. So, you know, that tells you something about somebody."
- Fusion GPS Joshua Levy claimed that someone died as a result of the dossier: "Somebody's already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work."
- Fusion GPS did not secure full access to Trump's tax returns, Simpson said: "They were Trump properties and I believe we may have reviewed some public information about estate taxes and things like that. We didn't have access to his tax returns."
- Simpson said he only become aware of the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer when it was reported in the New York Times: "I was stunned."