Fusion co-founder: Dossier author feared Trump was being blackmailed
Posted January 9, 2018 1:18 p.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2018 2:31 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the author of the opposition research dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia was acting on his own volition when he went to the FBI because he was concerned that a presidential candidate was being blackmailed, according to an initial CNN review of the 312-page document.
Simpson told the committee in closed-door testimony made public on Tuesday that no one had encouraged him and he did not seek anyone's approval when ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, went to the FBI in July 2016.
"Chris said he was very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat and said he wanted to -- he said he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government, in our government about this information," Simpson said. "He thought from his perspective there was an issue -- a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed."
Simpson also testified that Steele told him the FBI had similar intelligence from "an internal Trump campaign source" and that the FBI "believed Chris' information might be credible 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's testimony was released Tuesday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who posted the transcript of the August 2017 Senate Judiciary Committee interview that took place behind closed doors.
Feinstein issued the transcript of the 10-hour interview without the support of committee's Republican chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who had argued the committee needed to temporarily protect certain information while an investigation was ongoing.
The transcript is likely to provide Democrats a counterargument to the Republican charges that the dossier was a political document paid for by Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
In a statement, California's senior senator said she was releasing the transcript with the support of the committee's Democrats.
"After speaking with majority and minority committee staff for 10 hours, Glenn Simpson requested the transcript of his interview be released publicly. The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves," said Feinstein. "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."
In a statement, Fusion GPS said it "commends Sen. Feinstein for her courage. The transcript of Glenn Simpson's lengthy responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questioning speaks for itself."
Simpson's firm paid Steele to compile the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia. Last week, Simpson and his fellow Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch wrote an op-ed in The New York Times saying that Simpson's testimony "walked investigators through our yearlong effort to decipher Mr. Trump's complex business past, of which the Steele dossier is but one chapter." In the op-ed, they called for the transcripts of Simpson's congressional testimony to be released.
"It's time to share what our company told investigators," they wrote.
Last week, Grassley and fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a criminal referral to the Justice Department, urging an investigation into whether Steele lied to federal investigators over his contacts with the media. The referral was issued without consulting Feinstein, who called it "clearly another effort to deflect attention" from the Russia investigation.
This story has been updated.