THREAD ON THIRD (BOMBSHELL) FUSION GPS TRANSCRIPT BEFORE HOUSE INTEL. (Note: I'm doing this in fits and starts. There may be a few minutes where I have to step away to deal with family. I'll be back.) Please note: ex-high profile securities litigator here, CEO of a consulting co.
1/ Gowdy leads off with questioning. Simpson confirms that the first entity to hire him to do oppo research on Trump was the Washington Free Beacon. (Tr. 7)
2/ Generally, at the end of an engagement, Fusion writes a report of their findings. (Tr. 8)
3/ Most of Fusion’s staff “come out of the, you know, journalism industry, which is all about sort of sticking to the facts and not leaping to conclusions and not trying to, you know, come up with a hit piece on anybody. (Tr. 9)
4/ "So, generally speaking, you know, what we get compensated for is producing reliable treatments of whatever the subject is.” (Tr. 9)
5/ “It doesn't help us or our clients if we only look for negative information. What the clients want is all the information.” (Tr. 9)
6/ “[I]f you're in a campaign and the, you know, other side is a businessman and you're reviewing his career, it's important information whether he's a good businessman or bad businessman.” (Tr. 9)
7/ "And you don't want your client trying to make an issue of his business career if he's a brilliant businessman who knows how to make money in an honest and ethical way." (Tr. 9)
8/ In other words, Fusion is after the truth. Gowdy, however, wanted to know Simpson's definition of “facts.” LOL. (Tr. 9)
9/ Simpson: “I mean, factual information is - a lot of what we do is gather facts. And sometimes facts are provable facts; sometimes facts are established facts; sometimes they're allegations, factual allegations. So we do all of the above.” (Tr. 9)
10/ “When you gather up lawsuit information, for example, you have two sides making factual allegations against each other; and what's important is that you have a reliable, credible basis for your information.” (Tr. 9-10)
11/ I repeat: in other words, Fusion is after the truth.
12/ Opposition research is not a major line of business for Fusion. Rather, it usually focuses on business and corporate investigations, “and Mr. Trump is a big businessman.” (Tr. 11)
13/ The Washington Free Beacon employed Fusion to do opposition research on Trump for about eight months. (Tr. 11-12)
14/ The second client that retained Fusion to do opposition research on Trump was the law firm Perkins Coie. (Tr. 13)
15/ Gowdy tried to get Fusion to disclose attorney client privileged communications with the law firm, but Simpson refused, and there was a lengthy debate about the fact that the House doesn’t recognize the attorney client privilege (this is news to me). (Tr. 14-19)
16/ Gowdy does get him to admit that Perkins Coie did work for the DNC, and that Fusion knew that the DNC was who they were working for in continuing the opposition research on Trump. (Tr. 19)
17/ Fusion started by investigating Trump’s business practices, and specifically his business practices overseas. Fusion developed its own lines of inquiry and wasn’t given marching orders by the DNC. (Tr. 21-22)
18/ For its work, Fusion was paid a flat fee of $50,000 a month. (Tr. 22) In my experience, this is total chump change for investigatory work of this nature.
19/ Simpson had in the past written articles on Putin, corruption and organized crime in Russia, as well as Ukraine. That is when he first came across Paul Manafort. (Tr. 22-23)
20/ Simpson was introduced to Christopher Steele around the time Simpson left the WSJ, and they developed a professional relationship based on their interests in similar subjects. (Tr. 23)
21/ At the start of the Trump engagement, Simpson became aware of Trump’s relationship with Felix Sater. (Tr. 23-24)
22/“[O]ver the course of the first phase of this...we developed a lot of additional information suggesting that the company that [DJT] had been associated with and Felix Sater, Bayrock,was engaged in illicit financial business activity andhad organized crime connections.”(Tr. 24)
23/ READ THAT LAST ONE AGAIN.
24/ “We also had sort of more broadly learned that Mr. Trump had long time associations with Italian organized crime figures." (Tr. 24)
25/ "And as we pieced together the early years of his biography, it seemed as if during the early part of his career he had connections to a lot of Italian mafia figures, and then gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures.” (Tr. 24)
26/ "“And so all of that had developed by the spring of 2016 to the point where it was not a speculative piece of research; it was pretty well-established.” (Tr. 24)
Pretty well established, in other words, that the current POTUS had ties to the Russian mafia.
Pretty well established, in other words, that the current POTUS had ties to the Russian mafia.
27/ “And Mr. Trump had, quite memorably, attempted to downplay his relationship with Mr. Sater in ways that I found, frankly, suspicious and not credible. Saying he wouldn't recognize him on the street, but there were pictures of them together.” (Tr. 24)
28/ “And the other people around Bayrock were also from the former Soviet Union and also had associations suggestive of possible organized crime ties.” (Tr. 24)
29/ “And then, you know, we also increasingly saw that Mr. Trump's business career had evolved over the prior decade into a lot of projects in overseas places, particularly in the former Soviet Union...” (Tr. 24-25)
30/ "...that were very opaque, and that he had made a number of trips to Russia, but said he'd never done a business deal there. And I found that mysterious.” (Tr. 24-25)
31/ So Simpson sent the “perfect person” “to figure out what was going on there”: Christopher Steele. (Tr. 25)
32/ Christopher Steele was eventually paid $160,000 for his work, but the initial engagement was just $20-$30k. (Tr. 25) Again, this is an insanely low amount of money for this kind of work.
33/ Because of security concerns, Christopher Steele can’t go to Russia himself because he’s been exposed previously as MI6. So he “hires people to travel and talk to people and find out what’s going on.” (Tr. 27)
34/ Fusion did assess credibility of sources “and whether they were in a position to know the things that they were saying." They didn't ask for IDs, but "Some people, I think I know who they are for other reasons. But that's about as much as I can say.” (Tr. 28)
35/ Simpson's position was "to suspend judgment. I was not particularly interested in some of the things that he found that are among the most controversial, because I didn't think they were useful or important for what I was trying to do." (Tr. 28)
36/ "And so I to this day can't tell you whether a lot of those things -- I just don't have a strong view as to whether they are false or true, per se.” (Tr. 28)
37/ “But what we did do is look at names and places and people and whether they matched up with information we could get elsewhere. And all of that, as far as it went, checked out.” Nothing contradicts the memos to date. (Tr. 28)
38/ Simpson found nothing in their reports to be false, and didn’t omit anything because he thought it to be not credible. (Tr. 28-29)
39/ One of the things Fusion discovered from interviews was that Sergei Ivanov, the head of Russia’s presidential administration, was running the Kremlin’s election operation (ed. note: and there it is). Fusion dug into research and found it to be true. (Tr. 29)
40/ Other intel also proved reliable after checking it for credibility against other sources. (Tr. 30)
41/ After Gowdy, Schiff took over, and his questions returned to the Free Beacon. Simpson testified that he believed the Free Beacon was working with “the wing of the Republican party that was concerned about a takeover of the party by the Donald Trump wing.” (Tr. 31)
42/ The information Fusion gathered on Trump for the Free Beacon eventually made its way into various media. (Tr. 31)
43/ Schiff specifically asked if Fusion’s work for the Free Beacon landed on Fox News or Breitbart, and Simpson said “I honestly don’t know.” (Tr. 33-34)
44/ The Free Beacon wouldn’t have discussed giving the information to Fox or Breitbart with Fusion first, and Simpson doesn’t watch Fox or read Breitbart. LOL. (Tr. 34-35)
45/ Simpson knew a lot about Manafort from his days at the WSJ, and had even written an article about whether Manafort should register as a foreign agent, so when Manafort became Trump’s campaign chair, “I was struck by that.” (Tr. 35)
46/ While doing work for the Free Beacon, Fusion dug into Trump’s ties to Russia, including the sale of that infamous estate in Florida that got sold to Dmitry Rybolovlev at a high markup, as well as Trump’s trips to and marketing in Russia. (Tr. 35-36)
47/ Schiff asked him based on his experience how the Russians generally launder money. (Tr. 36-37)
48/ “[T]he Russians are far more sophisticated in their criminal organized crime activities than the Italians, and they're a lot more global. They understand finance a lot better. And so they tend to use quite elaborate methods to move money.” (Tr. 37)
49/ “I mean, if you can think of a way to launder money, the Russians are pretty good at it. But they specifically understand financial markets. So I think I can tell you all of that.” (Tr. 37)
50/ “I can tell you also that the Russians are much more integrated in the way they operate with the political -- the sort of legitimate business structures." (Tr. 37)
51/ "So you don't find too many Italian mafia guys who are major shareholders in big media companies, but you definitely can find Russian mafia guys who are big shareh,olders in international media companies.” WHOA.
But then we get to the meat of it. “the thing that comes to mind, of course, is the real estate deals. And, you know, it did come to our attention during this, you know, first round or this first part of the project that there were a lot of real estate deals ..." (Tr. 37)
52/ "...where you couldn't really tell who was buying the property. And sometimes properties would be bought and sold, and they would be bought for one price and sold for a loss shortly thereafter, and it didn't really make sense to us.” (Tr. 37)
53/ “MR. SCHIFF: Did you find evidence of that with respect to Mr. Trump?” (Tr. 38)
54/ “MR. SIMPSON: I think a lot of what we found is subsequently - there have been similar articles published. "Evidence," I think, is a strong word. I think we saw patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money laundering.” (Tr. 38) AND THERE IT IS.
55/ “MR. SIMPSON: There was -- well, for one thing, there was various criminals were buying the properties. So there was a gangster -- a Russian gangster living in Trump Tower.” (Tr. 38)
56/ “His gangster name is Taiwanchik. I couldn't spell his actual name. But, you know, I mean, these are the kind of things that prompted us to hire Mr. Steele. (Tr. 38-39)
57/ "We had a gangster named Taiwanchik living in Trump Tower who had been ... I think he was running a -- his associates were living in Trump Tower,·and he was running a high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower, while he himself was a fugitive..." (Tr. 38-39)
58/"...for having rigged the skating competition at the Salt Lake Olympics and a bunch of other sporting events ... And when Mr. Trump went to the Miss Universe pageant Taiwanchik was there in the VIP section with Mr. Trump and lots of other Kremlin biggies." (Tr. 38-39)
59/ "So that kind of thing raised questions with us. Generally speaking, the patterns of activity that we thought might be suggestive of money laundering were, you know, fast turnover deals and deals ... " (Tr. 38-39)
60/ "...where there seemed to have been efforts to disguise the identity of the buyer." (Tr. 38-39)
61/ And what about real estate transactions, Schiff asks? (Tr. 39)
62/ “what we saw was that beginning in the early 2000s, when he began to do business with Bayrock and to do some of these other deals, that these were the problematic deals that he entered into. So it was essentially the previous decade of business deals, 2005 onward.” (Tr. 39)
63/ Additional deals outside the US in Panama and Toronto that “smacks of fraud” with “a lot of Russian mafia figures listed as buyers.” (Tr. 40)
64/ And then there were the golf courses in Scotland and Ireland. (Tr. 40)
65/ “Well, we had -- you know, we saw what Eric Trump said 40 about Russian money being available for his golf -- for the golf course projects, making remarks about having unlimited sums available.” (Tr. 40)
66/ “So we were able to get the financial statements. And they don't, on their face, show Russian involvement, but what they do show is enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources and - " (Tr. 40)
67/ "...or at least on paper it says it's from The Trump Organization, but it's hundreds of millions of dollars. And these golf course are just, you know, they're sinks. They don't actually make any money.” (Tr. 40)
68/ “if you're familiar with Donald. Trump's finances and the litigation over whether he's really a billionaire...there's good reason to believe he doesn't have enough money to do this and that he would have had to have outside financial support for these things.” (Tr. 40-41)
69/ [Taking a break here, peeps. Back soon with more. 120 pages more. GAH.]
70/ Ok, I'm back, with a glass of wine. Let's continue.
71/ The Russian mafia is well integrated into the Russian government. “[T]he Russian mafia is essentially under the dominion of the Russian Government and Russian Intelligence Services. And many of the oligarchs are also mafia figures.” (Tr. 41)
72/ “Essentially, if people who seem to be associated with the Russian mafia are buying Trump properties or arranging for other people to buy Trump properties, it does raise a question about whether they're doing it on behalf of the government.” (Tr. 42)
73/ So if the Russians were laundering money through Trump properties, the Kremlin would know it, “certainly.” (Tr. 42)
74/ THE WHOLE POINT: “MR. SCHIFF: Might that provide the Russian Government leverage vis-a-vis now-President Trump? MR. SIMPSON: Yes.” (Tr. 42)
75/ Simpson had explicit evidence that Junior’s statement about money pouring into the Trump organization was true and credible. (Tr. 42)
76/ Simpson also found orchestrated efforts to help Trump go to market in Russia with things like Trump vodka. (Tr. 44)
77/ Simpson also found that Sergi Millian was operating under an alias, and that there were pictures of him with Trump, that he boasted he’d sold millions in Trump properties, and that he was also connected to Michael Cohen. (Tr. 45)
78/ Eventually, Simpson discovered that Trump had links to numerous Russian crime figures in New York and Florida. (Tr. 46-47)
79/ Trump’s well established relationship with the Agalarovs was suspicious. Aras Agalarov was responsible for setting up the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. “I think it's a reasonable interpretation that that was a Russian Government-directed operation of some sort.” (Tr. 48)
80/ WHOA. And Simpson also looked into Kushner, and uncovered a plan to sell visas in exchange for foreign investment in a tower in Jersey City. (Tr. 50)
81/ Review of Trump’s properties in Vegas showed they were performing extremely poorly. (Tr. 52)
82/ Simpson was directly asked whether there was evidence that the Russians colluded with Trump to beat HRC. (Tr. 53-54)
83/ “I think that the evidence that has developed over the last year, since President Trump took office, is that there is a well-established pattern of surreptitious contacts..."
84/ "...that occurred last year that supports the broad allegation of some sort of an undisclosed political or financial relationship between The Trump Organization and people in Russia.” (Tr. 54)
85/ “I'm certainly not prepared to say and never wanted to be the person who had to determine whether that's a criminal conspiracy.” (Tr. 54)
86/ Simpson continued to work to develop intel on Trump even after Fusion was no longer employed by the DNC, and even after the election. (Tr. 55)
87/ Chris Steele doesn’t pay his sources for information. (Tr. 56)
88/ Fusion had intel that the Russians were working to get Trump elected before the US intelligence community did, intel that’s since been proven true. (Tr. 57)
89/ Fusion briefed the media on Russian interference before the election because they wanted the American public to know what was going on. (Tr. 59)
90/ Simpson testified here as he did before Senate Judiciary that Steele decided he needed to take the intel to the FBI, and Fusion agreed. (Tr. 61)
91/ Neither HRC nor the DNC knew that Fusion had gone to the FBI. (Tr. 61-62)
92/ Simpson advised Schiff in his testimony on who to subpoena, by name, to get to the bottom of Russian money laundering in the Trump Org. (Tr. 63-65)
GAH. So good.
GAH. So good.
93/ Simpson reiterated his testimony here about why Simpson was such a good hire, and also why they became incredibly concerned when it appeared that Russia was about to weaponize hacked intel from the DNC. (Tr. 65-67)
94/ And then there's this: “the story of the Russian operation against the United States and the pattern of surreptitious contacts between The Trump Organization and Russia, I don't think that's--I don't think that's--we're even anywhere close to having the full story.” (Tr. 68)
95/ Simpson spoke to the FBI around Thanksgiving of 2016. (Tr. 78)
96/ “There was--we were--by that time, we were enormously concerned about rapidly accumulating indications that the Russian Government had mounted a massive attack on the American election system and that, you know,Donald Trump or his associates might have been involved.”(Tr. 78)
97/ “And, you know, so we were, frankly, you know, very scared for the country and for ourselves and felt that if we could give it to someone else, we should, higher up.” (Tr. 78)
98/ Simpson also pointed the committee to Trump’s accountant, Alan Garten, to his attorney, Michael Cohen, and to now WH Communications Director Hope Hicks. (Tr. 83)
99/ Junior had gone to Russia and to Kazakhstan numerous times for reasons that are unclear. Trump himself had been to Russia four or five times before the election. (Tr. 84)
100/ WHOA. And Simpson’s investigation into Kushner found that the Kushners have serious ties to Russian money as well. (Tr. 86)
101/ “[T]he Kushners are ethnic Russian and ... had relationships of their own with Russian capital.... their relationships were with the Russian diaspora in the New York area. … those are the connections that the Kushners have to outside capital.” (Tr. 86)
102/ Simpson once again outlined his role in the Prevezon case and how he was hired by Baker Hostetler. (Tr. 86-94)
103/ Schiff turned it back to money laundering and Russia. Simpson testified “ultimately.. what we came to realize was that the money was actually coming out of Russia and going into his properties in Florida and New York and Panama and Toronto and these other places.” (Tr. 95)
104/ “by 2003, 2004, Donald Trump was not able to get bank credit for - and If you're a real estate developer and you can't get bank loans, you know, you've got a problem.” (Tr. 95)
105/ “One of the things that we now know about how the condo projects were financed is that you have to -- you can get credit if you can show that you've sold a certain number of units.” (Tr. 95)
106/ “And so the real trick is to get people who say they've bought those units, and that's where the Russians are to be found, is in some of those pre-sales, is what they're called.” (Tr. 95)
107/ Simpson uncovered that in some of these cases, the Russians were lined up as buyers, but never paid, in order to convince legit buyers to invest. (Tr. 97)
108/ Schiff pointed out that these allegations lined up with those for which Ivanka and Junior were investigated by the NY DA. (Tr. 98)
109/ Simpson also uncovered connections between Roger Stone and Wikileaks. (Tr . 99-100)
110/ WHOA. Simpson also implicated Bannon as a link between Cambridge Analytica and Brexit. (Tr. 100)
111/ Simpson also implicated the Mercers as a key component. (Tr. 100-101)
112/ Simpson went to the media because “we had information that there was a Russian intelligence operation that the Russians were engaged in... that this was more than just hacking..."
113/ "... and that there was a major effort to interfere with the election, and that it allegedly involved the Trump organization.” (Tr. 103)
and there it is again.
and there it is again.
114/ “And the reason for that, the motivation for that was mainly because I thought that this was historic and that it was something the press needed to investigate and know about and ask the Intelligence Community about because I wanted to expose it." (Tr. 103-104)
115/ “It was Russians working with Americans.” (Tr. 104)
116/ And when Comey announced the Hillary letter, “we decided that if... Comey wasn't going to tell people about this investigation that, you know, he had violated the rules, and we would only be fair if the world knew that both candidates were under FBI investigation.” (Tr. 107)
117/ “It was to expose a sinister plot by Vladimir Putin, a hostile foreign power, to attempt to alter the outcome of an American Presidential election.” (Tr. 111)
118/ Simpson also suggested that Schiff investigate the Ctr for the Natl Interest, Stone, Manafort and Trump, Manafort’s Ukrainian connections, Carter Page, Gorka, and JD Gordon—and, oh, Jared and Ivanka, other family members, as well as numerous oligarchs. (Tr. 112-117)
119/ Simpson reiterated how he met Vesilnitskaya as he did before Senate Judiciary. (Tr. 118-124)
120/ Jackie Speier then did a deep dive into the sale of that mansion in Florida to Rybolovlev. (Tr. 125)
121/ “Well, I originally dismissed this transaction as a runoff, .or not relevant, because of my imperfect and incomplete understanding of the whole timeline. And I had never heard of Dmitry Rybolovlev. So it seemed like an absurd acquisition. (Tr. 125)
122/ “when we looked at Rybolovlev's plane travel, you could see that he was going to Moscow all the time, and that all his legal problems went away, ... So I am now of the view that that transaction is suspicious.” (Tr. 126)
123/ Simpson also got in to the use of pensions to move Russian money in a sanctions environment, efforts that are connected to Michael Cohen. This is so deep. (Tr. 127-128)
124/ Carter Page, as we already know, was a long time target of Russian intelligence. (Tr. 129-130)
125/ Both Ivanka and Don Jr. traveled to Kazakhstan, and no one knows why. (Tr. 132)
WHOA. Speier asked about Russian investment in the NRA, which we laypeople didn’t know about in any detail until yesterday, all the way back in November. (Tr. 142-143)
127/ Simpson: “it appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA And there is more than one explanation for why. But I would say broadly speaking, it appears that the Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations..."
128/ "And they targeted various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise, and they seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA.” (Tr. 142)
129/ Torshin, a high level organized crime figure, is a lifetime member of the NRA, and was supposed to have a meeting with Trump after the inauguration. (Tr. 143)
130/ GOD this whole thing is so dirty.
131/ “And the thing I found, you know, the most absurd about this is that, you know, Vladimir Putin is not in favor of universal gun ownership for Russians. And so it's all a big charade, basically.” (Tr. 143)
132/ Simpson also confirmed that the Russians infiltrated other conservative and religious groups, as well as California and Texas secession movements. (Tr. 143-144)
133/ Fusion also at one point investigated Ted Cruz. (Tr. 153)
134/ Simpson completely dismissed the conspiracy theory that the Russians were feeding him misinformation through Vesilnitskaya. Fusion maintained ethical walls between clients in any event. (Tr. 156-157)
135/ And of course, this line by Simpson at the end of his testimony pretty much sums it up: “You know, we threw a line in the water and Moby Dick came back, and we didn't know what to do with it at first.” I’ll say. (Tr. 164)
136/ Last page: Steele was “specifically concerned about the kompromat issue and whether, you know, a Republican -- whether a candidate for President of the United States, a nominee has been kompromatted.” That is why he went to the FBI. (Tr. 165)
137/ Ok, final observations: the connections to the Russian mob and Russian money laundering are damning. There is more here on this than there was in the Senate Judiciary testimony.
138/ As well, it seems beyond obvious at this point that Trump is/was compromised by Russian money propping up his companies.
139/ Lastly, this is an extremely compelling circumstantial case for treason, among many other crimes. My bet is Mueller has actual direct evidence as well.
140/ Another stunning night in America, folks. Thanks for reading. /END THREAD
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