It appears that there was plenty of collusion when it comes to allegations of Russian interference, it just doesn’t involve President Donald Trump.
In what’s being dismissed as a coincidental crossing of paths, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, met with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson last July at a security conference in Aspen, according to investigative journalist John Solomon.
A meeting Schiff apparently didn’t disclose, which would have been appropriate given that Simpson testified under oath before the House panel on alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
But not to worry, we’re told there’s nothing to see here.
While the men surely didn’t talk about grandkids, as former President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch claimed they did in the infamous “tarmac meeting” in Phoenix, we’re assured they only “exchanged small talk.”
We know Schiff, who is virulently anti-Trump and is set to launch his own probe of the president, met with Simpson because there are photos of the encounter, Solomon tells readers in an op-ed run in The Hill.
As a quick refresher, after being hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Simpson’s firm produced the unverified Christopher Steel Russian dossier on Trump that was used by the FBI to help secure a surveillance warrant against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
But as Solomon writes, Schiff’s meeting with an important witness came at a time when the House Intel Committee, of which the California Democrat was the ranking member at the time, had received evidence from Justice Department official Bruce Ohr that “called into question Simpson’s testimony to lawmakers.”
More from Solomon:
“Specifically, Simpson claimed he had not begun meeting with Ohr until after Thanksgiving 2016, well after the FBI had begun investigating Trump-Russia collusion and after the presidential election in which Simpson’s client, Clinton, lost to Trump.
“But Ohr provided compelling evidence, including calendar notations, testimony and handwritten notes, showing that Simpson met with him in August 2016, well before the election and during a time when Steele was helping the FBI start an investigation into Trump.”
When asked about the meeting, both parties brushed it off as coincidental, insisting that nothing substantive about the Russia collusion investigation was discussed.
“In the summer of 2018, Mr. Simpson attended a media-sponsored social event where he exchanged small talk with Rep. Schiff and many other people who were in attendance,” Fusion GPS said in a statement. “The conversation between the two was brief and did not cover anything substantive. There has been no subsequent contact between Mr. Simpson and Rep. Schiff.”
Schiff spokesman Patrick Boland was even more vague in responding to an inquiry.
“The chairman did not have any pre-planned meeting with Glenn Simpson, and any conversation with him at the Aspen conference would have been brief and social in nature,” Boland told Solomon.
The investigative journalist tells readers that there may not be anything illegal or technically improper about a congressman meeting, intentionally or unintentionally, with a witness in an investigation, before exposing a potentially far-reaching hypocrisy on the part of Schiff.
But Schiff created a far higher standard two years ago when he demanded that his Republican counterpart on the committee, then-Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), be investigated for having meetings with national security council officials at the Trump White House without telling the committee. Schiff’s attacks led Nunes to temporarily recuse himself from the Russia probe.
Schiff assailed Nunes’s contacts with a source outside the committee confines as “a dead-of-night excursion” and said it called into question the impartiality of the inquiry because the committee wasn’t informed.
“I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman,” Schiff said at the time.
So the question is, based on Schiff’s own standards, must he now recuse himself from any investigative effort by his committee of the president on the matter, as Nunes did?
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who took over the Russia probe after Nunes recused himself, drew attention to the highly questionable aspect of the “Forest Gump-like encounter” between Schiff and Simpson, as Solomon characterized the meeting.
“It’s interesting that Simpson is at the heart of the dossier and the dossier played a mighty role in not only going after Carter Page but in much of Adam’s and Eric Swalwell’s [D-Calif.] quest to find collusion, that [Schiff] would in fact in that exact same conversation, or time frame, be in conversation or appear to be in conversation with the guy who’s principally responsible for the dossier,” Conaway told Hill TV.
As for the House Intel Committee setting its sights on Trump, the president took to Twitter Thursday to denounce the “presidential harassment,” pointing out that the GOP never did this with former President Barack Obama.
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