For many people, following the investigation into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia has been confusing, if not altogether impossible. The slow trickle of information that has been released to the public so far has been easily lost amid the onslaught of propaganda coming out of the Trump White House.
Although Trump would like the public to believe that he is the target of baseless and politically motivated attacks from the left, the facts just do not align with that version of the story.
I admit, until about a week ago, I was not at all convinced that the Russia investigation was a real issue. I saw it as the Democrats doing something similar to what was done to President Obama. The only real difference was that, while the right was convinced PBO was a Muslim-terrorist- infiltrator who would kill them with healthcare death panels, this time it was the left that was convinced that Trump was secretly in cahoots with the Russians. It just seemed like the same old conspiracy theories drug out and recycled for a different audience.
Then someone sent me this document. It is a copy of the official transcript of Glenn Simpson’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017. It is 311 pages long and it reads a lot like a gripping spy novel.
The tale is one of treachery: espionage, hacking, document theft, sexual transgressions, blackmail, election rigging, treason and murder. The cast of characters includes both the expected and the unexpected. American and Russian diplomats and spies. Somewhere near the middle, AZ Senator John McCain makes a surprise appearance in the UK. Meanwhile, a GOP Congressman named French Hill makes a similar appearance here at home.
What I learned from the transcript.
Simpson was subjected to ten solid hours of questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee. He appeared voluntarily and it seems he did his best to provide thorough and complete responses to every question presented to him by the committee. Throughout this ten-hour-long ordeal, Simpson was asked the same or similar questions multiple times by different members of the committee. His answers remained relatively consistent across the board.
After reading the transcript, it became clear to me that the Trump-Russia investigation is anything but a Nunesburger.
Here are ten reasons why.
1. Glenn Simpson’s testimony destroys the Trump/Nunes false narrative.
A former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Glenn Simpson is one of the founders of Fusion GPS, the company that was hired by the DNC to investigate Trump. Nunes and Trump insist that the so-called dossier is ‘fake.’ The first thing you learn from the 311 page transcript is that much of the information gathered by Fusion GPS (the infamous dossier) came from public records. This part of the dossier includes things like financial documents, real estate transfer records, newspaper articles linking Trump to various unsavory characters in the US and overseas, court records from litigation involving Trump in nearly every country in the world and much more.
All of this information was legally obtained, often through FOIA and similar laws that provide access to foreign public records. While much of it was already available to the public, it took someone with Simpson’s knowledge of Russia and his journalistic background to assemble the pieces of the puzzle and finally begin putting them together.
2. The firm’s investigative work inside of Russia sparked grave concerns about a conspiracy.
According to Simpson’s detailed testimony, GPS Fusion employee Chris Steele traveled to Russia to follow up on the company’s investigation into Trump’s activities there. Simpson testified that by this time they were very concerned about who or what the future president might be involved with there.
On page 143 of the transcript, Simpson tells the Senate:
“So the purpose of this was to see if we could learn more, generally speaking, about his business dealings in Russia. What came back was something, you know, very different and obviously more alarming, which had to do with — you know, which outlined a political conspiracy and a much broader set of issues than the ones that we basically went looking for. You know, initially we didn’t know what do with this.”
What this statement tells us is that The Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI, DOJ, Simpson and others know a lot more about what is going on than we do.
Additional statements made throughout the hearing confirm that. On page 43, for example, Simpson refers to ‘other information that we’d received’ as a potential national security issue.
3. Steele went to the FBI with the information in his possession.
According to Simpson’s testimony, as the investigation turned up more and more evidence of a potential threat to national security, it became apparent that the information had to be handed over to the FBI. Chris Steele met with agents for the first time in approximately late June or early July of 2017.
Along with the public records information, Steele turned over information that he had obtained while conducting interviews and sifting through records in Moscow.
Simpson told the committee that initially he and Steele believed that Trump was being blackmailed by the Russian government.
4. Suspicions of blackmail.
Something you might have missed, as reported by Newsweek back in June of 2017, Trump and several close family members and associates are EACH hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to Deutsche Bank.
That’s the same Deutsche Bank that settled with the US government in January of 2017, over charges that it laundered more than $10 Billion (that’s billion with a B) worth of Russian money into the US. Once elected, Donald Trump got to right to work forgiving them for it.
You can also view some of Trump’s sketchy financial documents, which were released by the Ethics Office in January of 2017, right here.
According to Simpson, one of the things his agency discovered about Trump is that he appears to be heavily in debt, a fact which conflicts with his public statements and persona.
It is interesting to note that this was only the initial suspicion. As they turned up more information, Simpson says, their concerns became more urgent.
5. Someone inside the Trump campaign went to the FBI around this same time, with similar concerns about Trump’s Russia dealings.
Also contrary to the assertions made by the right, according to Simpson, the informant inside the Trump camp was not an FBI plant.
Speaking of the informant:
BY MS. SAWYER:
Q. Was this individual also a person who had been a source for Mr. Steele, without identifying who that was?
Q. So this was someone independent of Mr. Steele’s sources who potentially had information also on the same topics?
A. Yes. I mean, I don’t think this implicates any of the issues to say I think it was a voluntary source, someone who was concerned about the same concerns we had.
MR. DAVIS: I’m having a hard time hearing you. Please speak up.
BY THE WITNESS: A. It was someone like us who decided to pick up the phone and report something.
This is the confidential informant who secretly recorded Trump’s Foreign Policy Adviser, George Papadopoulos, discussing Hillary’s stolen emails with Russian operatives. Papadopoulos later plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his connections to officials in the Russian government.
Curiously, Papadopoulos’ indictment states that the evidence laid out in the charging document does not “constitute all of the facts known to the parties concerning the charged offense.”
So again, there is a lot that we do not know.
6. The dossier is not fake.
Memo 2016/080 (published by BuzzFeed here) covers nearly all of the offenses that are outlined in Papadopoulos’ very-real-and-not-fake indictment. If the dossier were fake, it would also have to be magic to have the power to predict so closely the charges that would be forth coming.
What the conspiracy pushers want you to believe is that the FBI used the ‘fake’ dossier created by Fusion GPS to manufacturer charges against their beloved leader.
Feel free to count all the holes in that theory for yourself.
7. Election theft data turned over to the FBI.
From page 305 of the transcript:
Q. Do you have any information there have been reports about potential communications between a server at Alpha Bank and potentially servers that belong to the Trump organization or Trump — some entity associated with Donald Trump? Do you have any information about those particular reports?
A. That’s kind of an open-ended question. I think what I said is we were asked about that and it wasn’t — that information wasn’t generated by us and I’m happy to say it’s beyond our competence to have generated, but in the course of being asked about it, you know, people gave us information. I don’t know what else to say.
Q. And what information were you given?
A. A bunch of data. I mean, we were shown like do you know what this would mean, does this mean, and it’s beyond — it’s really — it’s certainly beyond my competence.
This mysterious data is now in the hands of the FBI. If the election was indeed stolen, the FBI likely has evidence that goes far beyond anything provided by Fusion GPS.
8. Someone was killed.
On page 279 of the transcript, Mr. Levy, one of the lawyers representing Fusion GPS tells the committee:
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.
The statement came in response to repeated questions about the names of the sources who provided information to Fusion GPS. Simpson’s attorney made it clear that some names and details would be provided to the committee in a strictly confidential manner. The hearing was moved to a closed session multiple times, presumably so that could take place.
9. Carter Page is nothing and everything.
You might think that Carter Page, the subject of the Nunes memo, is a major player in all of this. Given that there is so much we don’t know, I won’t try guess the nature or extent of his involvement in a larger conspiracy.
Trying to discredit or otherwise undermine the investigation is Trump’s only hope. He is hoping to break the chain of evidence that is no-doubt mounting against him by attacking the legality of the investigation of Page.
Again, the facts are contrary to the Nunes memo. According to the memo, the investigation was initiated by the Fusion GPS documents. According to this article by Politico, that is not what happened:
What does seem to have happened is that various U.S. intelligence agencies were looking into Page’s time in Moscow, then briefed Senate minority leader, Democrat Harry Reid, who wrote a letter to FBI Director James Comey asking him to investigate, among other things, “whether a Trump adviser who has been highly critical of U.S. and European economic sanctions on Russia, and who has conflicts of interest due to investments in Russian energy conglomerate Gazprom, met with high-ranking sanctioned individuals while in Moscow in July of 2016, well after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee.”
10. The evidence keeps mounting…
GQ reported on February 6, 2018;
Thanks to an overlooked filing made in federal court this past summer, we can now add a jewelry business to the list of Trump family enterprises that allegedly served as vehicles to fraudulently hide the assets of ultra-rich foreigners with checkered backgrounds. In late June, the Commercial Bank of Dubai sought—and later received—permission to subpoena Ivanka Trump’s now-defunct fine jewelry line, claiming its diamonds were used in a massive scheme to hide roughly $100 million that was owed to the bank, according to filings at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
There is still too much we don’t know.
Regardless of what you think of Fusion GPS, Hillary Clinton or the DNC, I think we are talking about something much bigger than every day run of the mill political infighting in America.
Trump is frantically trying to spin this as a ‘partisan attack,’ a ‘set up,’ a plot against him by the ‘evil democrats’. I entertained the possibility that yes, that could, in fact, be what is happening. But the facts do not support that version of reality.
There are too many ties to Russia, whether through campaign staffers, political allies or business associates. There’s his secretive financial records and shady business dealings all around the globe. Most of all, though there is that troubling knowledge of his character, or lack of it.
Beyond that, every time I see Trump, I am eerily reminded of Randal Flagg, from Stephen King’s The Stand.
I believe that we are living at a crucial point in history. It may well be a turning point for our nation, that will forever change us. The evidence suggests that there have been an external forces working to divide us for a long time. We only give our enemy power over us by remaining divided.
Historically, Americans have a way of rising up and coming together when faced with the worst. I believe we can still do that, in spite of our many differences.
Featured image credit: courtesy of the Kremlin.