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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) BREAKING: In an extraordinary move, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) has *unilaterally* released the transcript of Fusion GPS's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

What follows is a live-read of the transcript by a former criminal defense attorney. Hope you'll share.
1/ First, here's a link to the transcript, which is on Senator Feinstein's government website:
2/ This testimony is from August 22, 2017.

It's not the only testimony Glenn Simpson (Fusion GPS) has given before Congress. The Republicans did not want Americans to see this testimony; after publicly saying he'd vote to release it, Sen. Grassley (R-IA) reneged on his promise.
3/ Note: Fusion GPS was *not* directly involved in the collection of the top-shelf Russian HUMINT now compiled in what's known as the "Orbis Report" or "Steele Dossier." It contracted with former MI6 agent—and Russia desk-head—Christopher Steele (whose company is called "Orbis").
4/ The questioning in this transcript was conducted by Congressional staffers—most attorneys—not Senators. Recall as you read this live-read that—like the report on Trump compiled by a Steve Bannon-headed outfit in 2015—this 2016 report was originally commissioned by Republicans.
5/ Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS founder, appeared with counsel. The questioning schedule began with an hour for the majority—Republicans' Congressional staff—followed by an hour for the Democrats, repeating in that cycle until no one present had any more questions for the witness.
6/ FWIW, the subject of this testimony—Steele's dossier—has been the "theory of the case" adopted by this feed since January 2017 in analyzing the Trump-Russia investigation. So I have a good deal of familiarity with the subject Mr. Simpson and Congressional staff are discussing.
7/ Deputy Chief Investigative Counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) begins by noting the interview is "unclassified," meaning that no Senator could credibly claim that release of the transcript would be a threat to intelligence sources or methods.
8/ Mr. Simpson is asked to note if he wishes to provide, as part of an answer, classified intel—as that portion of his answer can be provided in a separate forum. Again, consistent with Grassley's prior promise to vote for release of this transcript, its release poses no dangers.
9/ Mr. Simpson was informed in advance that he could assert any common-law privileges—presumably, this refers (somewhat awkwardly) to the Fifth Amendment or attorney-client privilege—and his assertions would be reviewed. My understanding is Simpson doesn't assert any privileges.
10/ The interview is not under oath, but Mr. Simpson is made aware that there are criminal penalties for lying to Congress. He agrees to testify truthfully. It is noted that this testimony (for now) eliminates the need for a subpoena for Simpson to testify.

Okay, so here we go.
11/ Simpson begins by detailing—in response to a question on the subject—his background as a journalist at a conservative publication (WSJ) and a nonpartisan one (Roll Call). He establishes that his area of focus was financial crimes (including, relevant here, Money Laundering).
12/ The first questions seek to establish any and all LLCs that Simpson owns and how and when they came to be. When they start asking Simpson about his domestic bank accounts, his attorney says it's outside the scope of the interview and they just move on from that topic quickly.
13/ But the question and objection about bank accounts presages what the Republicans want to do here—establish Glenn Simpson, a well-known and well-respected journalist from the conservative WSJ, as a shady borderline criminal working with the Democrats for hard cash. Ridiculous.
14/ Fusion GPS has now, and had while the Steele Dossier was being compiled by Orbis—a separate entity—about a dozen employees, per Simpson.

During the presidential campaign, Fusion GPS had something north of ten clients (types: corporate, law-firm, investment-fund, litigant).
15/ Simpson notes that part of his job—that is, part of what Fusion GPS does, though not the greatest part—is provide information to media outlets that will or might further the interests of clients. This is pretty standard for an opposition research firm—nothing surprising here.
16/ But Simpson underscores that Fusion GPS only provides media outlets (when it does so) with factual information, nearly all of which is public information. So it doesn't engage in pressure campaigns but simply disseminates factual information that it (or contractors) compiled.
17/ Simpson underscores that Fusion GPS does not do payment arrangements which are dependent upon Fusion GPS getting a certain number of articles published (or the reverse, i.e., *kept* from being published) on a topic of interest to a client.
17/ Simpson also notes that Fusion GPS does not do payment arrangements which incentivize Fusion GPS getting a government body to initiate an investigation of something, though of course Fusion GPS may tell a client that—based on information found—that's one recourse they have.
18/ It's at this point Davis—Patrick Davis, Deputy Chief Investigative Counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA)—engages in a sleazy sleight-of-hand. He tells Simpson his questions going forward on "Fusion GPS" *also* cover Orbis and other contractors.
19/ Davis' goal here—a political, not investigative one—is to counter-factually conflate Fusion GPS and one of its many contractors (Orbis), so that a transcript will be produced in which *all actions of Orbis* are attributed to Fusion as though they were actions taken by Fusion.
20/ From a liability standpoint, there may be some validity to this—in certain situations, Fusion can have liability for a contractor's actions. But not all Davis' questions will be about liability, some will be about methods (and so on). So this Fusion/Orbis conflation is wrong.
21/ However, *politically* the conflation is a goldmine for Republicans. If they can create a transcript conflating Fusion and Orbis, they can say that any *non-Orbis* work Fusion was doing is somehow attributable to Christopher Steele (Orbis). This is—excuse me—bigtime bullshit.
22/ Simpson's attorney (Levy) objects—but weakly. What he needed to do was underscore that his client would, to the best of his ability, answer questions about his activities with *specificity*: if Fusion did or does this, he'll say so; if this was done by another, he'll say so.
(NOTE) Thread continues here:
23/ Now they're talking about litigation support Fusion GPS did for Baker Hostetler, a law firm involved in a DOJ lawsuit against Prevezon Holdings. I'm not going to obsess over details, but I'll summarize: the GOP wants to establish Fusion works for Russia. They'll fail at this.
24/ So Prevezon Holdings' law firm, Baker Hostetler, contracted with Fusion GPS to help the firm (and thus Prevezon) defend against a DOJ lawsuit.

I really want to emphasize that none of this—none of it—has a damn thing to do with Christopher Steele, Orbis or the Steele Dossier.
25/ So up through mid- to late 2016, Simpson and one of his analysts were doing this work for Baker Hostetler, Prevezon's law firm. Some of the research they were doing involved the Magnitsky Act (U.S. sanctions on certain Russian persons). Here's a one-tweet summary of all this:
26/ The DOJ alleged Prevezon was laundering Russian money through Cyprus. An attorney (Magnitsky) was the one who discovered it first—so Putin apparently had him killed. The U.S. leveled sanctions on Russia (the Magnitsky Act) as a result. Fusion indirectly represented Prevezon.
27/ All anyone would take from this is: (a) Fusion will work for anyone, regardless of their politics (and indeed the Steele Dossier was paid for by Republicans, then Democrats); (b) Fusion was (only in working for Prevezon) "on Trump's side" in opposing certain Russia sanctions.
28/ So Fusion working for Prevezon (indirectly, via Baker Hostetler) would, to be *very* clear, *underscore*—rather than undercut—the legitimacy of Steele's dossier, by underscoring that Fusion is *not* a firm with a dedicated political perspective. So these questions are stupid.
29/ What the GOP is hoping, instead—and it's going to be tough to follow this pretzel-shaped logic—is that Fusion doing indirect work for a cause Putin supports means that Steele (wait for it) was, on a wholly different job, secretly working for Putin in trying to damage Trump.
30/ If you'll believe a theory of the case that stupid—so counterfactual and nonsensical—you really don't need Davis questioning Simpson to get there. Honestly, all you'd need to do is hit your head against a hard surface about 50 times or so and the GOP theory *will* make sense.
31/ Yes! Simpson has done what his attorney should have done (see my earlier tweet): "It's going to be difficult [to answer your question] because it's really hard for me to answer questions where you lump in all these things that other people were doing and impute them to me."
32/ Simpson is no fool: he sees that when Davis asks about Fusion "working to overturn the Magnitsky Act," he and the Republicans are trying to concoct a simplified narrative of events which—and this is the best part—doesn't even make any sense when it's way, way over-simplified.
33/ Ironically, what Simpson's answers *really* establish is Fusion has the ability to hire contractors who were/are great Russian-language speakers/Russia experts and well-connected to Russian nationals. Davis inadvertently establishes Fusion as a great firm for Russia research.
34/ One sign that Fusion is a professional operation is that Simpson says the first thing they did for Baker Hostetler was research whether the client—Prevezon—was lying. I can confirm that attorneys really do *need* to know this information right off, or they can't do their job.
35/ Simpson says they confirmed Prevezon was being blackmailed by Russian mafia—which was threatening to report them to the authorities—and that William Browder, DOJ's main source, was lying about his presence in the U.S. to avoid being questioned under oath by Baker Hostetler.
36/ I have zero opinion on the Prevezon case—don't know enough about it—but I've done criminal investigations, so I know that the work Simpson is describing is entirely commonplace for a firm of his sort. If Davis thinks he's landing anything, he really isn't. That's just a fact.
37/ Fascinating nuggets come out here that Davis surely doesn't like: Simpson's specialty as a journalist was financial crimes *in Russia*; DOJ's source in the Prevezon case was—per Simpson at least—very much a pro-Putin individual rather than someone hunting Russian corruption.
38/ Quote: "I first met Browder back when I was a journalist at WSJ doing stories about corruption in Russia. The first time I met him—I was working on a story about Putin corruption—he lectured me on how Putin wasn't corrupt and was the best thing that ever happened to Russia."
39/ "There are numerous docs he published himself—interviews he gave—singing Putin's praises. At the time I was already investigating corruption in Putin's Russia—so this made me more curious about his activities in Russia and what that might tell me about corruption in Russia."
40/ So the Republican theory is a man who's spent his career—even while working for Prevezon!—investigating Russian corruption was in fact secretly working for Putin.

So where are all the conservatives howling about "crazy conspiracy theories"? Because that one's crazy as hell.
41/ Case-in-point: "One of my obsessions over the last decade has been corruption in Russia and Russian kleptocracy and the police state there. I was stationed in Europe '05 to '08. So I was there when Putin was consolidating power. So it's a subject I've read very widely on..."
42/ Now the Democrats are questioning Simpson. They establish, first, that Fusion offered open-ended rather than results-directed research via—largely—public information. Meaning, Fusion doesn't tell a client whatever they want to hear—they tell them whatever it is they've found.
43/ Second, the Democrats establish what even a small baby would know instinctively: when you're doing research for a client, you *can't and don't share that research with other clients*.

No one in Simpson's line of work could operate unless he stuck to that hard-and-fast rule.
44/ So for Republicans to be right about the Steele Dossier and Russia, not only would an anti-Putin journalist have to secretly be working for Putin—he'd have to be violating the basic precepts of his industry in a way that would immediately and permanently destroy his business.
45/ Third, the Democrats establish that Fusion's subcontractors (a) had Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) regarding their findings, and (b) were not told who the client was. Both these facts would make some secret Clinton-Steele conspiracy even more impossible than it already is.
46/ The Republican theory already involves *Simpson* betraying the whole purpose of his journalistic and business career, now it *also* involves Steele engaging in behavior that would a) destroy *his* business, too, and b) undercut *all* the work he *ever* did in Russia for MI6.
47/ Okay—now we come to Trump. (Closing in on 25% of the way through the transcript, for those keeping track at home. I want to note the Republicans literally never said Trump's name—that's how terrified they are of Simpson, Steele, and this dossier. It's really quite stunning.)
48/ (Quick side note: I have bronchitis right now. So if there are any sudden delays in this thread, it means I'm having a coughing fit, hacking something up, checking my temperature, having soup, or letting our puppy out. I hope you'll bear with me as we go along. Many thanks.)
49/ Simpson won't reveal any client names, but says that he and Fusion GPS began work on Trump's myriad U.S. and overseas business dealings—which have been an issue many people have wanted and tried to research for *decades*, not simply in 2015—in "September or October of 2015."
50/ This timeline is key: it means Fusion worked for *Republicans* for *9 months* before the Dems ever got involved, and the initial reason for the course of investigation Fusion embarked upon was a general view Trump could be *successful* as a politician—so oppo was reasonable.
51/ This completely undercuts the Republican narrative and Trump's—that what started Fusion GPS looking at Trump was a Democratic interest in making Russia a story. *No*. In 2015—before anyone was talking about Trump-Russia ties—Fusion GPS was asked to look at his business deals.
52/ Here's the best part! At the time Fusion was contracted, *Trump had secretly entered into a letter-of-intent with Russian developers to build Trump Tower Moscow*. So *at the time* the GOP asked Fusion to look into Trump's secret deals, the *biggest one* was with the Russians.
53/ (To be clear, the assertion in the last tweet about a 2015 Trump Tower Moscow deal is from public reports—major media reports often discussed on this feed. Feel free to Google "Sater," "Cohen", "2015," "Trump," and "Trump Tower Moscow." The Huffington Post has a great story.)
54/ Had Trump released his tax returns; had he not had secret business deals with Russians while running for president; had he not lied so many times about his contacts with Putin; had he not had documented ties to the Russian mafia—Fusion wouldn't have had so much to do or find.
55/ In short, Steele's dossier is 100% Trump's fault—dirt was found because there was dirt to find, and dirt was so urgently requested because Trump had never been vetted as a political candidate and was so opaque about his business deals that everyone knew he was hiding things.
56/ This is how *easy* it is to find out about Trump's connections to the Russian mafia: you find it out the *first 72 hours* you're looking at Trump generally.
57/ Simpson confirms he was looking at Trump's ties to Russia, and specifically Trump's ties to organized crime in Russia, from the first hours of his research—*nine months* before one of the law firms serving the Clinton campaign got involved in funding the research in mid-2016.
58/ The Republicans take one in the gut: Trump's business partner—Sater—is connected to the same crime family Simpson became an expert on in working for Prevezon's law firm, so even the Trump-sanctions tie in the dossier originated nine months before any Democrats were involved.
59/ Simpson notes the crime family Sater is connected to is linked to Russian natural-gas pipeline issues—so now the Trump-Russia energy tie was already in play nine months before any Democrats were involved.

So too were Russian political figures and Russian intelligence (FSB).
60/ Simpson, an expert in Putin's Russia and Russian financial crimes, found evidence Trump had committed (if it could be tied to his future presidential run) an impeachable offense—Perjury—nine months before any Democrats became involved in his research.

Read *that* one twice.
61/ Simpson also implies he quickly discovered indications Trump was committing Tax Fraud and hiding his cash and assets. Think hard, now, about how many lies Trump had to tell American voters to avoid releasing his tax returns like every other presidential candidate for decades.
62/ Breaking in for BREAKING NEWS: Bannon Leaving Breitbart…
63/ Simpson next strongly denies being, as the White House has said, a "Democratic-linked firm." He says that is 100% false—Fusion has and does do work for both Republicans and Democrats. In a different age, just this one lie by the White House would discredit it on the Dossier.
64/ After noting Fusion is a "nonpartisan" firm, Simpson says he subcontracted with Steele (Orbis) after Fusion had already done an "enormous" amount of research on Trump (including Russia ties) over a period of nine months.

Again, before *any* involvement by *any* Democrats.
65/ Breaking in for BREAKING NEWS: Mother Jones reports Grassley now says the transcript shows Simpson was "uncooperative, colluding with Russia and colluding with the Democrats." I ask everyone reading this thread to click on the link to the transcript and confirm this is a lie.
66/ Okay, back now from a really interesting conversation with @AshaRangappa_. See her feed for more (and follow her, too!)
67/ So in May or June 2016, Simpson says Fusion GPS contracted with a *bunch* of subcontractors—not just Steele and Orbis. Each contractor was an expert in their area. So the idea Fusion and Orbis had some special, exclusive arrangement or plot is *not* borne out by the evidence.
68/ More than this, Simpson says he'd known Steele for *eight years* as a "lead Russianist at MI6" and "extremely well-regarded investigator and researcher." So the idea that Steele was a Russian plant who was suddenly sent to Simpson by Putin in 2016 is off-the-wall crazy-talk.
69/ A brief point of personal privilege: this feed has taken incoming fire for a year now just for using the research of a former MI6 agent and Russia expert as a "theory of the case" worth testing. There's incoming fire even today. But read this transcript—this was *solid* work.
70/ Criminal investigators—and I was one, for a time—develop a "theory of the case" you *test* and *change* over time. I did this on Twitter; the FBI/CIA did it in their own Trump-Russia research. And now—today—the document we all used as a "starter" theory is proven rock-solid.
71/ So if you see authors, sportswriters, or random folks on Twitter say that I—or the FBI/CIA—were "conspiracy theorists" to develop a *changeable* "theory of the case" based on MI6-grade HUMINT, and aren't qualified to conduct legal/investigative analysis from it, explore that.
72/ (All right—moving on—but do see my bio, which is linked to in my Twitter profile, if you're being inundated today by folks who don't follow the Russia investigation closely and didn't go to law school and haven't been trained as criminal investigators saying avoid this feed.)
73/ *Any* government or non-government investigator would have found this sketchy, and would have subcontracted a Russia expert to look into it. Simpson made the right call, and found exactly the right man for the job (Steele).
74/ Simpson says when he subcontracted with Steele he wasn't particularly focused on any ties Trump might have had with the Russia government, but Trump speaking so eloquently (as it were) about wanting to do deals in Russia and then claiming to have no business there whatsoever.
75/ Simpson reveals he hadn't just *known* Steele for seven years as of 2016—it'd be eight now—but had *worked* with him over that time, using his Russia expertise and investigation skills. So if there was a Simpson-Steele plot, guess what: it started in 2009.

I don't think so.
76/ Simpson describes Steele as a "Boy Scout" in terms of his integrity, methods, and lifestyle. He means it as a compliment—and in context, it very much is. Essentially, Steele is a straight shooter—which is exactly what you'd expect if you've read (as I have) of his MI6 career.
77/ Here's the best summary (and you can confirm this by reading up on Steele's biography): the MI6 trusted Steele to *train other agents*. That tells any investigator—government or non-government—just about all you need to know. As a former investigator, I know what that means.
78/ All Simpson asked Steele to do was find out what Trump did on his trips to Russia. He didn't ask for salacious details, just the basics: who was he with, what did he do, where did he go, was business conducted, and so on.

Steele found salacious stuff because it was *there*.
79/ Simpson makes clear Steele did *no* work on the Prevezon case and didn't know anything about it. He also reveals he had a second Russia expert working on Russia-/Trump-related issues (someone he'd worked with before).

That person focused on Manafort and Ukraine, not Russia.
80/ Simpson makes two key points: (1) Steele started his correspondence with Russian sources *before* the Trump-Russia issue blew up, so his sources had no reason to know what was coming; (2) not all Steele's sources were in Russia—some were Russian Diaspora sources (e.g. US/UK).
81/ He also notes that, in those early days, info on what was happening with Trump was common knowledge among powerful Russians—it was an open secret. That includes the salacious stuff. This tracks with the CIA telling the BBC that *multiple* intel agencies knew of Trump "tapes."
82/ For those readers who *haven't* seen me tweet out the Paul Wood (BBC) article on Trump and the alleged Ritz Moscow "tapes," here it is (from January 2017—and it *remains* one of the most important pieces of journalism in the whole Trump-Russia affair):…
83/ Simpson implies that Christopher Steele, as the former "lead Russianist for MI6"—a wholly accurate claim, to be clear—knew how to recognize and filter out disinformation coming from Russia basically better than anyone on Earth. Let me repeat that: better than anyone on Earth.
84/ Put another way, if it's possible to filter out disinformation from a dossier of Russian HUMINT reports, Christopher Steele—who compiled those reports as a subcontractor for Fusion GPS—was *the* person to do it. That's why I used his work as this feed's "theory of the case."
85/ Simpson makes clear Steele *didn't* know anyone else was working on Trump-Russia issues for Fusion (that one other person I mentioned). So the fact that that other person had done some work on the Prevezon case has nothing to do with Christopher Steele or his work for Fusion.
86/ Simpson also points out something I just realized those who haven't run a business before—long ago, I ran an LLC—might not know: Steele's "client" was never the Republicans or Democrats, but *Fusion GPS*.

*Fusion GPS* had Republican—then Democratic—clients. Key distinction.
87/ Here's a key summary, by Simpson, of what human intelligence (HUMINT) is, and how someone who specializes in that type of information—in this case, Christopher Steele—would assess it in compiling a dossier of individual HUMINT-based reports originating from Russia nationals.
88/ Now the Republicans and Davis are back questioning Simpson. Immediately they switch from Trump to Prevezon, wasting everyone's time. I'm going to just lightly summarize this questioning, as it is—from all the evidence we have—specious and entirely a political game by the GOP.
89/ A second point of personal privilege, if that's okay: I just want to link everyone to a Washington Post interview I gave to Callum Borchers today on the subject of Stephen Miller.

It's part of a story on whether media outlets should keep booking him.…
90/ A summary of Davis' questioning of Simpson: yes, Fusion spoke to the press when Prevezon's lawyers asked them to (normal course of business—and indeed all of the major networks and newspapers and online outlets at some point or another asked to speak to Fusion about Browder).
91/ Yes, Fusion occasionally drew from a repository of public information jointly created and accessed by Fusion and Baker Hostetler in dealing with the press—again, normal course of business. Yes, he trusted Baker Hostetler's work as a law firm after years of dealing with them.
92/ Do you know how many direct and cross-examinations I've had to do in courtrooms during which I knew I had nothing really to gain, no real point, and just labored on to make a respectable effort to look engaged and maybe get some surprising info? Many. Davis is doing it here.
93/ Take it from a former trial attorney: the Republican questioners here have nothing—and *know* they have nothing—on either Simpson or Fusion. Any trial attorney could read this transcript and tell you that.

So Davis' questioning of Simpson is borderline embarrassing to read.
94/ (Simpson to Davis): Yes, we used known, respected, reliable, independent Russian translators from our own stock and from Baker Hostetler to translate any Russian court documents provided by Prevezon. As with all else Fusion did, this is standard practice in these situations.
95/ Simpson to Davis (my summary): Yes, I came across Rinat Akhmetshin [who would show up at the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower] during the Prevezon case. No, I never had any economic relationship with him. He's a lobbyist I *first* met while working at the Wall Street Journal.
96/ Simpson to Davis (my summary): I have never done business with Akhmetshin. Years ago he gave me some info on Kyrgyzstan during an interaction. We were not in any sort of business relationship and it had nothing to do with Russia. He was pushing some story he was proud of.
97/ Simpson to Davis (my summary): I was in Prevezon meetings where Akhmetshin was also present. At certain points Baker Hostetler did ask us to share information with him. He was not our client and we were not in any sort of relationship with him. He was connected to Prevezon.
98/ Simpson to Davis (my summary): Akhmetshin—as a lobbyist—used some of our research to lobby Congress to end Magnitsky sanctions.

Can I pause here? Doesn't all this just make Fusion GPS look like it didn't have a dog in the sanctions fight—as it was on both sides of the issue?
99/ So, to recap: Veselnitskaya was Prevezon's attorney, and she retained Baker Hostetler, a U.S. law firm, which retained Fusion GPS. Veselnitskaya may have provided Fusion with some of the same (derogatory) docs about William Browder she tried to give to Trump Jr. in June 2016.
100/ Simpson said he knew Veselnitskaya had once worked for the Russian government as a prosecutor, but had no information about her being in any way connected to Russian intelligence.

Davis seems to have found his bone—relevant names. But there's no sense (yet) he has a theory.
101/ Simpson is being 100% cooperative. I'm sure he doesn't love that 2 Prevezon agents ended up going to Trump Tower to do what they do—lobby on sanctions—but so far I bet neither he nor any of us can see what this has to do with Christopher Steele or Orbis. It's very confusing.
102/ Davis is now so deep down the Prevezon rabbit-hole—still without revealing or developing through his questioning its relevance to the Steele Dossier or to Fusion's competence or integrity—that I'm going to summarize it here *only* if he finds his way back from Wonderland.
103/ Status update: we're about halfway through the transcript.
104/ If you see the acronym HRAGI associated with Simpson's testimony, it's because Davis is asking him about his contacts with anyone associated with the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation—an organization focused on restarting U.S. adoption of Russian kids.
105/ After the U.S. passed the Magnitsky Act—which sanctioned a small number of powerful Russian oligarchs—HRAGI was formed to help undo Putin's response to that Act, which (quite cruelly) was to prohibit Americans from adopting Russian children needing adoption. Yes—pretty sick.
106/ One admittedly *crazy* fact is that Simpson had dinner with Veselnitskaya both the day before *and* day after she went to Trump Tower to lobby the Trump campaign on Russian adoptions—a topic Trump was eager to discuss with Putin but Don says he kept from his dad for a year.
107/ But I'm still struggling with the theory here: do the Republicans think Simpson (who was a subcontractor for Prevezon's law firm) somehow *instructed* Prevezon's attorney to lobby the Trump campaign on sanctions—when that sort of lobbying is what they'd been doing all along?
108/ Moreover, we already *know* the Veselnitskaya meeting originated with *Trump's business partners, the Agalarovs*—so how in the world is the GOP suddenly going to try to convince Americans that Fusion's brand-new clients (just brought on days earlier) were behind the meeting?
109/ Simpson confirms he had nothing to do with Veselnitskaya's trip—which she ostensibly made to attend a court hearing on June 9th, but which, we now know, was basically a pretext to get to the U.S. to meet with the Trumps at Trump Tower (*not* to meet with Fusion GPS/Simpson).
110/ In fact, not only did Simpson not know about Veselnitskaya's secret plan, he first read about it in the NYT along with everyone else. And he notes that Veselnitskaya barely speaks English and he doesn't know Russian (recall Veselnitskaya brought a translator to Trump Tower).
111/ Simpson now confirms: (1) Akhmetshin didn't tell him about the Trump Tower meeting; (2) he doesn't know Ike Kaveladze, and Kaveladze wasn't involved in the Prevezon case to his knowledge; (3) no one from Baker Hostetler indicated to him having prior knowledge of the meeting.
112/ Let me emphasize something: *all of this confirms the narrative* that Veselnitskaya *didn't* go to Trump Tower to talk about Prevezon—as he didn't tell anyone involved she was going—but, as the Agalarovs told Goldstone, was *passing a message from the Kremlin to the Trumps*.
113/ To repeat: Grassley's Deputy Chief Investigative Counsel Pat Davis just spent *over a half-hour* establishing a complicated series of facts that *dramatically* underscores and supports the theory that Veselnitskaya was working for the *Kremlin*—not Prevezon!—on June 9, 2016.
114/ Had she been working for Prevezon, she would've a) told her law firm (Baker Hostetler) about the trip, and asked them to come or asked if they considered it appropriate, and b) would've felt free to mention it to Baker Hostetler subcontractors like Fusion—which she *didn't*.
115/ Moreover, that she chose *Rinat Akhmetshin*—of everyone associated with Prevezon—to come with her, knowing that he was former KGB, and Ike Kaveladze, knowing he worked for the Agalarovs' Crocus Group (Trump's "Trump Tower Moscow" partner) reveals what she was up to that day.
116/ WHOA! Bombshell: Simpson says Fusion has a source indicating Ike Kaveladze—Agalarov/Crocus Group; met with Trump himself at the Miss USA pageant in mid-2013 to help convince him to come to Moscow with the Miss Universe pageant that November—has ties to Russian intelligence.
117/ If true, this could tie Trump's partners on Trump Tower Moscow (the Agalarovs) to Russian intelligence, but *more importantly*—on the question of whether Russian intelligence used Trump's 2013 trip to get kompromat—could tie a man who lured him there to Russian intelligence.
118/ Regular readers know I've focused on Kaveladze here—and first promoted excellent research by a very young aspiring journalist (@ScottMStedman) on Kaveladze's 2013 trip to the Miss USA pageant, which research Reuters says led to Kaveladze being questioned (again) by Congress.
119/ The point here is, (a) follow @ScottMStedman, and (b) consider that Congress may well agree that—as has been argued on this feed, and in the Steele Dossier—Trump's 2013 trip to Moscow was in a sense the *beginning* of his presidential run and his illicit ties to the Kremlin.
120/ Sorry, bronchitis break.
121/ The one fact that counters the claims Veselnitskaya was acting in conjunction with the Agalarovs and—as Goldstone called him—Russia's "crown prosecutor" (sic) is Simpson says her translator was "off the rack," taken from the courthouse Veselnitskaya had been at that morning.
122/ But that's not really true. The Daily Beast has reported Anatoli Samochornov had previously translated for Veselnitskaya *and* her lobbying group. So clearly she trusted his adherence to his confidentiality agreements and had some reason to. Simpson may not have known this.
123/ We must remember this testimony was from almost five months ago, and that Simpson has conceded that some of what the Republicans were asking him about he only learned from the newspapers over the Summer of 2017. The Democrats asked him primarily stuff he actually knew about.
124/ The Dems are up again, so again we're discussing matters relevant to the Trump-Russia investigation.

By June 2016, Fusion needed to go beyond public info, so they subcontracted with Orbis. What they got immediately—around June 20, 2016—was word of a "political conspiracy."
125/ Note: Simpson—as an expert—referred to the allegations as a "political conspiracy." Under oath. I say this because what happened *was* a political conspiracy—but the fact that's the type of crime that occurred allowed Republicans to call many people "conspiracy theorists."
126/ Essential, if your "theory of the case" (a term of art) in the Trump-Russia investigation—much like the FBI/CIA—was the "political conspiracy" suggested by the Russian HUMINT developed by MI6's "top Russianist," you were called (and are still called) a "conspiracy theorist."
127/ But the fact is—and I say this as both a former criminal defense lawyer and a former criminal investigator—when you're investigating an allegation of criminal conspiracy, any theory of the case that points toward guilt—a conspiracy—is *definitionally* a "conspiracy theory."
128/ That means *any* person at the FBI, CIA, DNI, NSA, or overseas intelligence agencies who believed or believes it is *more likely than not* there was *some* sort of criminal political conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and the Kremlin is a "conspiracy theorist."
129/ The only question at issue, then, is whether the "conspiracy theory" Simpson caught word of in June 2016—and the FBI and CIA soon after—is supported by the facts. So far, every fact we have supports that there was *some* kind of (as Simpson called it) "political conspiracy."
130/ So any reasonable investigator is a "conspiracy theorist" (in a technical sense) as to a Trump-Russia political conspiracy—not the same thing as a hacking conspiracy—until any evidence should point the other way. But there are better/worse theories of the case, within that.
131/ When Simpson received a "theory of the case"—as to a Trump-Russia political conspiracy—via Steele, he admits Fusion didn't know what to do. They decided a) because it wasn't yet conclusively provable, they couldn't do anything with it and b) they needed to try to confirm it.
132/ Simpson concedes that what Steele gave him wasn't what he expected or had even wanted, inasmuch as he couldn't *really* do what he did—public records research—to confirm or deny it. And for that reason, it wasn't particularly useful—at that time—to his (Fusion GPS) clients.
133/ Here's a great quote from Simpson on the "threshold question" of the "credibility" of the first report in the so-called "Steele Dossier" (the report that includes the allegations about events at the Ritz Moscow in November 2013):
134/ Simpson notes that everyone he'd ever spoken to about Steele confirmed Simpson's belief—from years of knowing Steele and working with him—that Steele's information tended to be highly accurate and always professionally gathered.

That "everyone" included the US government.
135/ Simpson also notes a key fact: he himself had previously done substantial research on Russian/Chinese efforts to meddle in U.S. political affairs—and specifically, with Republican politicians—so he had a vast foundation of information, experience, and expertise to work from.
136/ Specifically, Simpson had broken stories involving Manafort and his patron Oleg Deripaska, a Putin ally. So you had MI6's top Russianist sending information to a former reporter for a conservative publication whose expertise was in Russian money laundering and Paul Manafort.
137/ More specifically, Simpson had studied how the Kremlin works with organized crime to siphon money from the energy trade for illicit purposes. The claim atop Steele's dossier? The Kremlin working with organized crime to siphon money from the energy trade for illicit purposes.
138/ I don't how else to say it: the Dossier—from the outside looking in—looks so damned airtight (at least as much as these things can be) it's no wonder the FBI and the CIA immediately saw it, once they got it, as being at least *mostly* accurate—and accurate on the key points.
139/ No wonder the Republicans didn't want America to see this transcript.

140/ Simpson now sets the timeline: between his June 20, 2016 memo (Memo 1) and his July 26, 2016 memo (Memo 2) Steele meets—for free, of course—with the FBI. News of the Wasserman Schultz hack told him—correctly—that his research might now be part of a criminal and NatSec probe.
141/ Simpson (on Steele): "Chris said he was very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat and said he thought we were obligated to tell someone in our government. He thought there was a security issue about whether a candidate was being blackmailed."
142/ Simpson (on his reaction): "From my perspective there was a law enforcement issue about whether there was an illegal conspiracy to violate campaign laws—and then somewhere in this time the issue of hacking also surfaced." So hacking was *not* the *primary* fear, Mr. Trump.
143/ That's been the biggest canard—lie—this whole time: that the allegation is that Trump's team *helped Russia hack the DNC*. No one says that. That's not in the Dossier. Democrats don't say it. No one in Congress or the DNC or at DOJ is looking at that. That's *not* the claim.
144/ Every time Sessions denied collusion, every time Trump denied collusion, every time a Trump spokesperson has denied collusion, it's been "we had nothing to do with helping the Russians hack anyone in the United States." But *no one says they did*.

It's a total red herring.
145/ The allegations from the first two Steele memos were these:

(1) The Kremlin may be blackmailing Trump.
(2) Trump may be getting illegally gotten Clinton oppo research from Russia.
(3) Trump may be trading U.S. sanctions policy for a closer business relationship with Russia.
146/ *Those* are the allegations *this* Twitter feed was founded upon—not any spurious claims that Trump data-heads were helping Russian *hackers*—and if you look at them now, 18 months on, we have a *lot* of evidence supporting all three of these explosive Trump-Russia claims.
147/ While there's growing evidence the Trump campaign's data analytics arm may have been feeding targeting data to the Kremlin's online propaganda campaign, that propaganda campaign is different from the Kremlin hacking campaign—so even that allegation isn't as Trump says it is.
148/ Simpson confirms that he and Christopher Steele were the *only ones* involved in the conversation about whether to take Memos 1 and 2 to the FBI—and Simpson says he wasn't sure about it but Steele had contacts and basically unilaterally decided he had an obligation to do it.
149/ Breaking in for BREAKING NEWS: Buzzfeed editor speaks on his publication's January 2017 release of the Steele Dossier.…
150/ NOTE: If at any point your Twitter feed is struggling to update this thread, just go to my main Twitter feed—this is the only thing I'm tweeting about right now, so you can just follow the thread in real time there, whether you can access my threaded tweets or not.
151/ Simpson—not cruelly—makes a simple statement about the alleged Ritz Moscow video: we know for *certain* the FSB does this regularly, so really the only question (he implies, without saying it) is whether Trump would let prostitutes into his room.

(By the way—yes, he would.)
152/ In October, I did an exhaustively researched Q&A on the alleged Ritz Moscow video, which you can find here (I apologize for the somewhat blithe pic atop the thread—I simply had no idea what sort of photo could possibly be appropriate for this topic):
153/ Breaking in for BREAKING NEWS (h/t @justinhendrix): Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has taken to the Senate floor to discuss the Steele Dossier. Watch here:
154/ Some news there: Blumenthal says that "he can say without fear of contradiction [by future events]" that there will be additional indictments and convictions in the Trump-Russia investigation. He has previously said that he expects these to come very early in 2018. So, soon.
155/ Simpson sets Steele's first contact with the FBI as early July. So the FBI and CIA already had a *ton* of useful info on a Trump-Russia investigation by then.

Remember how much had gone down in mid-June in terms of Russian hacking and information sent by allies to the CIA.
156/ Key points, all:
157/ This is a key point, too: as Republicans in Washington are trying to kick non-citizens out of this country by the many millions, they're proving—at the very same time—that they have less of an understanding of the term "citizenship" than Mr. Steele (a British citizen) does.
158/ Simpson notes that, at the time the FBI got a FISA warrant on Carter Page, it does *not* appear that they had yet received any memo from Christopher Steele that mentioned Page.

(I will have to check up on this claim later, but if accurate, it's certainly a critical point.)
159/ Simpson says he—possibly Steele, too—was clear-eyed on what sending such information to the FBI in the middle of a presidential election was likely to affect in the short-term: *nothing*. Simpson knew the DOJ had regulations on anything that could interfere with an election.
160/ So the idea that Chris Steele—let alone Glenn Simpson—thought that sending this information to the FBI was going to lead to an immediate press conference or whatever is crazy. Steele wanted to get the information to the FBI ASAP, and let them handle the situation from there.
161/ It's true that after the election Steele was surprised and concerned that nothing had been done—this has been widely reported—mostly because he just couldn't be sure that the information he'd given the FBI had really gone *anywhere*. That's when John McCain became involved.
162/ People are calling this a bombshell—that the FBI told Steele, when they met with him for the second time in mid-September 2016, that his work had merely corroborated what they already knew from a human source in the Trump camp—but they could just mean Papadopoulos (see NYT).
163/ That is, the corroboration could've come from the Australians, whose top diplomat in England Papadopoulos had drunkenly spilled secrets to at a bar in London in early May '16—telling him the Russians were offering Clinton emails to the Trump campaign (i.e., stolen material).
164/ U.S. law enforcement—not clear if it was the FBI, CIA, or both—got this info from the Australians in July '16, so right around the time Steele was meeting with the FBI for the *first* time. So the "human source" information we may already have known from a recent NYT report.
165/ But what's *interesting* is that Simpson seems to claim that he knows who the source inside the Trump campaign was. Remember, this was August 2017, so Papadopoulos had just been arrested and cut a deal (late July 2017). But would Simpson really have known that at that point?
166/ Remember, Steele's dossier used—as a source—someone close to the campaign believed to be either Boris Ephsteyn or Sergei Millian. So it seems more likely—in August 2017—Simpson was assuming the FBI meant one of those men when it said what it did to Steele in September 2016.
167/ Sorry—dangers of a live-read—let me correct that last tweet. Simpson now says the source in Trump's campaign *wasn't* anyone Steele used as a source for his Dossier. So it has to be either Papadopoulos or someone else—but if the former, this is being discussed in an odd way.
168/ Would the FBI really say, "We have a human source in the Trump campaign" (to Christopher Steele, in September 2016) if all they meant was that someone in the campaign—Papadopoulos—a *single* time let something slip to an Australian diplomat many months earlier? I don't know.
169/ Wait, okay, now I see the bombshell (will try to read ahead a bit before each tweet at this crucial point, from now on): Simpson says Steele reported to him that the "human source" the FBI had was someone who "decided to pick up the phone and report something." So—BOMBSHELL.
170/ So we now know the FBI source within the Trump presidential campaign—who pre-dated Steele's early July 2016 briefing of the FBI about his research on Trump and Russia—was *not* George Papadopoulos.

Bombshell: the FBI *did* have a mole in the Trump campaign pre-July 2016.
171/ So, to sum up where we are: everything the GOP said about the Dossier post-August 2017—to American voters—was a lie. They knew full well the Dossier had *corroborated* what a whistleblower in the Trump campaign told the FBI *before* July of 2016. This is goddamned explosive.
172/ House and Senate GOP allies of Trump are revealed, today, as being damn near complicit in a cover-up of epic proportions. Grassley trying to block the release of this transcript is him trying to keep Americans from finding out that the Dossier *wasn't* the FBI's main source.
173/ But *far more important* than the GOP smearing the dossier when they knew it had corroborated information the FBI already had is that the GOP was trying to *hide the fact that the FBI had a whistleblower on Trump-Russia ties within the Trump campaign*. Process that a second.
174/ What this means is the GOP *knew* the Trump-Russia story was legitimate—as it came from a whistleblower in *Trump's own campaign*—in August 2017. That's over four months ago. They've been lying this whole time. This is an *unspeakable* act of disloyalty to the United States.
175/ This means every time Trump said the Russia story was a "hoax" that originated with the *Democrats* there were many Republicans in Congress who knew it was a lie. And they let him say it. They let him lie, and mislead, and thereby aid the Russian effort to destroy our unity.
176/ Now we know why the NYT story on October 31, 2016 was called a "Halloween Special" by Simpson—it essentially exonerated Trump of any ties to Russia at a time the FBI knew *from a Trump campaign member* that was a lie. Yet the FBI—which reopened Clinton's case—said *nothing*.
177/ So of *course* Steele then assumed there was a *pro-Trump* conspiracy at the FBI—as it was reopening Clinton's case for what shortly (by November 5th) would be revealed to be *no reason* while *allowing* the New York Times to *falsely* report there was no Trump-Russia story.
178/ I don't think the word "bombshell" is enough here.

Nate Silver's polling analyses confirm the FBI's decision to reopen Clinton's case publicly—on no clear grounds—while permitting journalists to falsely report what the FBI had on Trump and Russia handed Trump the election.
179/ Wonder no longer why the GOP is attacking the FBI.

Because they've known since August that either incompetence or malice at the FBI handed Trump the election—so they need to establish a counter-narrative saying that the FBI had a *pro-Clinton* bias.

This is historic news.
180/ And if you want to understand the malice or incompetence at the FBI this transcript now confirms, you can go back to reporting I did on this subject—over a year ago. Read this, and see revealed the story of what was going on at the FBI pre-election:…?
181/ That article, from mid-January 2017, folds into its narrative essays I wrote earlier on (including in 2016). See the links in the article.

This is kind of too much to process—I don't think the media has *fully* processed this yet or we'd be hearing more shouting everywhere.
182/ I turned on CNN a few hours ago and they were talking about some ridiculous public meeting Trump help today to establish his "mental stamina."

If you understand this Simpson transcript, it's the only thing you're talking about in U.S. politics for—seriously—the next month.
183/ The reason this is now the only political news story for the next many cycles is it calls into question the entire GOP, the FBI, the White House's Trump-Russia defense, whether our government is compromised, and whether the 2016 election results can be considered legitimate.
184/ Feinstein released this transcript without consent from the majority party—a historic event in U.S. politics and something that didn't even happen during Watergate—because she understands the gravity of what this transcript revealed on page 176. These words are historic now:
185/ I understand I'm being extremely forceful here. But you need to go back, read the last thirty tweets—or the analysis of any of the many other journalists who I'm sure have figured out what all this means—and really let it percolate for a while.

It's taken me about an hour.
186/ When the media said—after the NYT story and Simpson's recent editorial—"Oh, he was talking about Papadopoulos," I said that didn't sound right based on how Simpson and the FBI were discussing that source within the Trump campaign. Now we know the source wasn't Papadopoulos.
187/ This BREAKING NEWS now makes sense: it's "go-time" for anyone and everyone who can do anything to protect this president by trying to bury what we learned today from Glenn Simpson's August 2017 Congressional testimony.…
188/ If Simpson walks back this claim, okay—assuming that walk-back is not simply because he doesn't want to get into the middle of what he'd have created if the FBI source was *not* Papadopoulos. I'm going to do some research now on what Simpson is now saying. Hold on, everyone.
189/ Natasha Bertrand of Business Insider is saying a source of hers told her that Glenn Simpson was referring to George Papadopoulos on page 176. But of course we know from court filings Papadopoulos did *not* pick up a phone and call the FBI at any time.…
190/ I think @NatashaBertrand is fantastic, but this report—while good—is just not enough right now. Simpson was reporting a conversation Steele had with the FBI in September 2016. There's no way Steele told Simpson someone "picked up a phone"—per the FBI—and it was Papadopoulos.
191/ There can't be fuzz on this: either Steele told Simpson "someone picked up the phone" and called the FBI or he didn't.

If Steele *said* that, the FBI source in the Trump campaign is *definitionally not Papadopoulos*.

If Steele *didn't* say it, it *could* be Papadopoulos.
192/ So "a source close to Fusion" saying (in summary) "Simpson meant Papadopoulos" isn't going to cut it on what would be the biggest news in U.S. politics this century.

I doubt Steele and Simpson learned in September 2016 what the NYT just reported as a *major scoop* in 2018.
193/ Moreover, let's be clear: Simpson telling someone today (if he did) that he meant "Papadopoulos" when he said (apparently, then, erroneously) "someone picked up a phone [and called the FBI]" does *not* explain why the GOP—which didn't have that clarification—did what it did.
194/ Did the GOP have, in August 2017 or anytime thereafter, the clarification Simpson allegedly provided today to someone "close to Fusion"? If so, that means they knew what the NYT would report months before they reported it. Even that—while a lesser scandal—would be a scandal.
195/ I'm going to keep reading this transcript, but I'm sorry—whether Natasha is correct or not, people have not worked backward from the information we received today to ask (a) what Simpson knew and when, and therefore (b) what Republicans in Congress knew and when. It matters.
196/ I'm closing in on 200 tweets and will probably take a break for now. I'm not convinced Simpson meant Papadopoulos, and if he did—a error he may've made—it's still a scandal on the question of when the GOP in D.C. learned about Papadopoulos and Australia.

It wasn't days ago.
197/ Holy cow! Just before midnight, thanks to a reader, I was directed to this page, which answers everything, @KenDilanianNBC and @NatashaBertrand. Simpson told Congress he did know if the "source" was Trump CAMPAIGN or Trump ORG, so clearly he didn't know it was Papadopoulos.
198/ So Simpson may now be saying he was referring to Papadopoulos, but he wasn't then—as a simple Google search would've revealed to him in August '17 that Papadopoulos was Trump CAMPAIGN, not Trump ORG—and that means the GOP didn't know it either. They thought there was a mole.
199/ So on August 22, 2017, Simpson told Congress there was an FBI mole in the Trump campaign—and they couldn't have been at all sure (had they even known at the time about Papadopoulos) that Papadopoulos is who Simpson meant. So we need to know what they did with that bombshell.
200/ All right, so now the GOP staffers are—two-thirds of the way through this transcript—trying to suggest that Simpson breached confidentiality *with Steele*. On that suitably ridiculous note, I'm going to end this live-read (at least for today).

Thanks for reading, all! /end
PS/ See my main feed for interactions with NBC and BI on the news of a mole in the Trump campaign (or org).

I'll offer a parting gift (as it were): there *was* a snitch in the Trump org. I was told by a major-media UK editor it's the "American" in this graph by Paul Wood (BBC).
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