Chuck Ross, DCNF
- Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, the co-founders of Fusion GPS, are published a book in December.
- In the book, Simpson and Fritsch will defend their roles in commissioning the Steele dossier, which has been largely debunked by the special counsel’s investigation.
- Fusion GPS hired former British spy Christopher Steele in June 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC.
The founders of opposition research firm Fusion GPS will defend their work on the infamous Steele dossier in a book set to be published just before Thanksgiving.
In “Crime in Progress: The Secret History of the Trump-Russia Investigation,” Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch will lay out the dirt they gathered on President Donald Trump’s alleged links to Russia, and describe their work with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the anti-Trump dossier.
“The never-before-told inside story of the high-stakes, four-year-long investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties — culminating in the Steele dossier, and sparking the Mueller report — from the founders of political opposition research company Fusion GPS,” reads the book description on Amazon.com, which includes an endorsement from CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
The book, published by Penguin Press, will hit shelves on Nov. 26.
“It feels like time to explain our work in our own words,” Fritsch said, according to The Guardian. “We were witnessing what we thought was a crime in progress that needed to be investigated.”
“I think we give a pretty careful exegesis of the [Steele] dossier, what is in it and what has been substantiated. We conclude it’s a pretty prescient document.”
Despite that defense, the special counsel’s investigation all but debunked several of the dossier’s major allegations. A Justice Department inspector general’s report is expected to come out this month scrutinizing the FBI’s handling of the dossier. The bureau relied on Steele’s information to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.
Steele, who relied on sources and sub-sources inside Russia, alleged that there was a “well-developed conspiracy of coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russian government to influence the 2016 election. But Robert Mueller, the special counsel, said that there was no evidence of a conspiracy between the campaign and Kremlin.
Steele also alleged that Page came up with the idea to release stolen DNC emails through WikiLeaks in July 2016. Mueller said that there was no evidence that any Americans, including Trump associates, were involved in hacking or releasing stolen emails.
Steele’s most specific allegation of collusion was also debunked. The ex-spy claimed that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Russians to discuss paying off hackers. But the special counsel’s report indicated that Cohen has never visited Prague. And Cohen has testified multiple times to Congress since entering a plea deal with Mueller that the dossier’s allegations about him are false.
Simpson and Fritsch will describe how they came to commission Steele to investigate Trump.
“What began as a march through a mind-boggling trove of lawsuits, bankruptcies, and sketchy overseas projects soon took a darker turn: The deeper Fusion dug, the more it began to notice names that Simpson and Fritsch had come across during their days covering Russian corruption — and the clearer it became that the focus of Fusion’s research going forward would be Trump’s entanglements with Russia,” reads the book description.
“To help them make sense of what they were seeing, Simpson and Fritsch engaged the services of a former British intelligence agent and Russia expert named Christopher Steele.”
Fusion GPS began investigating Trump in 2015 on behalf of The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website largely funded by GOP mega donor Paul Singer. By spring 2016, the Free Beacon had ended the contract, and so Fusion GPS contacted lawyers at Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented the DNC and Clinton campaign.
Perkins Coie paid Fusion more than $1 million in 2016 to investigate Trump. Fusion in turn paid Steele around $170,000.
The dossier project had several components. Steele gathered the information on Trump from sources he knew from his days as an MI6 officer in Moscow. Simpson helped put Steele in touch with reporters to discuss his Trump findings.
Simpson arranged meetings for Steele with journalists from Yahoo! News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and Mother Jones.
Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff and Mother Jones’ David Corn published stories based on Steele’s information prior to the election.
Isikoff and Corn reported in a book last year that Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, had some doubts about the credibility of the Steele source behind the explosive claim that the Kremlin has a sex tape of Trump with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013.
In “Russian Roulette,” Isikoff and Corn wrote that Simpson considered the alleged source, Sergei Millian, to be “a big talker.”
Fusion GPS continued investigating Trump even after the election. The firm worked with Daniel Jones, a former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer who operates the non-profit groups The Democracy Integrity Project (TDIP) and Advance Democracy, Inc.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that TDIP paid Fusion GPS more than $3.3 million in 2017, and paid Steele more than $250,000. Jones told the FBI in March 2017 that he was working with Fusion GPS and Steele on a project funded by seven to ten wealthy progressives from New York and California.
George Soros, the billionaire financier, donated at least $1 million to the group.
Jones told the FBI in a March 2017 interview that “planned to share the information he obtained with policymakers…and with the press.”
Some Republican lawmakers have accused Simpson of lying during congressional testimony about his work on the dossier.
In a Nov. 14, 2017 deposition before the House Intelligence Committee, Simpson said that he did not have contact with the FBI or Justice Department until after the 2016 election. But Bruce Ohr, a top Justice Department official, told Congress on Aug. 28, 2018 that he met with Simpson in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 21, 2016.
Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS at the time. Simpson has not publicly discussed the discrepancy in his and Ohr’s testimony.
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