Glenn Simpson, co-founder of the political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, sat down with members of the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday for a revealing 7-hour closed-door meeting, Fox News reports.
Simpson told lawmakers he personally spoke with the media about the contents of his firm’s salacious anti-Trump dossier–even though he never verified its claims.
The dossier was written by British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, based on information acquired from Steele’s Russian contacts. The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign financed Fusion GPS’s “dossier” research through the law firm Perkins Coie.
Simpson would not discuss his relationship with specific journalists who publicized his firm’s dossier claims, nor would he speak to his ties to the Clinton campaign or the Democratic National Committee.
But the Fusion GPS co-founder did admit that while he promoted the dossier to the press, he did not verify it. Simpson never traveled to Russia or spoke with the dossier’s underlying sources.
Simpson also revealed a motive for selling the dossier to journalists, saying he was “upset” and wanted to push back when then-FBI Director James Comey re-opened the Hillary Clinton email investigation in October 2016.
Joshua Levy, Simpson’s attorney, acknowledges his client briefed reporters on the dossier but maintains that neither Simpson nor Fusion GPS paid any member of the media to publish its contents.
To determine whether Levy’s assertion is true, the House Intelligence Committee is pushing for a release of Fusion GPS’s bank records–a move the firm is attempting to block.
Interestingly, Levy stands by the dossier’s credibility.
“What they did do is they contracted with Christopher Steele. … This experienced British intelligence official came back with a report. That now in hindsight looks quite accurate,” Levy said.
But Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who sits on the Intelligence Committee, takes an opposing view.
“The way that we vet information in a courtroom or in public is very different from the accumulating of opposition research,” Rep. Gowdy told the press. “The threshold for whether or not you believe something is true is not real high when you’re writing an oppo research piece. It’s really high in court.”
Simpson appeared before lawmakers voluntarily after the committee sought to subpoena him.
In addition to his role in spreading in the dossier among the journalistic community, Simpson is under scrutiny for having met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya before and after her June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. and others at Trump Tower.
According to bank records, Fusion GPS did work for a Kremlin-linked oligarch during that time period. Simpson claims to have had no involvement in the Veselnitskaya-Trump, Jr. meeting.