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August 10, 2018

Fusion Update: The Record Disputes Simpson's Congressional Testimony; Simpson Directed Steele To Talk to the Press in a "Hail Mary Pass," Thus Telling His Employee to Violate the Rules of the FBI He Was Also Working For

First: Simpson says he never talked with Bruce Ohr until after the election.


Chuck Ross reports that Bruce Ohr's contemporaneous notes say otherwise.

* Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson told House investigators last year that he only met Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr after the 2016 election.

* But Ohr's records show that he was in contact with Simpson as early as August 2016.

*Ohr's wife worked for Fusion GPS on the Steele dossier project.

Newly released Department of Justice records appear to conflict with testimony that Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson gave to Congress in 2017 about the timeline of his interactions with top DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Simpson claimed in testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Nov. 14 that he did not have contact with any FBI or DOJ officials regarding the infamous Steele dossier until after the 2016 election. But Ohr's emails, which have been provided to Congress, show that he and Simpson were in contact as early as August 2016.

There won't be a perjury charge; that's a law only Republicans are subject to.

John Solomon's piece is full of intriguing details and should be read in full. There's a lot here; most of it, however, isn't easily excerpted without all the rest of the context.

But here's what I think I can extract without so much context:

A memory stick quietly exchanged in a coffee shop.

An admission of a "Hail Mary" leak.

An unmistakable effort to push the Russia investigation closer to Donald Trump's inner circle with uncorroborated tales.

Those are just some of the highlights from the day that Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson -- paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to find dirt on her GOP rival --met secretly with a top Justice Department official, right after Trump won the 2016 election.

And all of it was captured in the official's handwritten notes --a contemporaneous record that intelligence professionals tell me exposes the flaws plaguing the early Russia collusion case.

...

One notation that stands out is Simpson's account that he asked Steele to talk with Mother Jones reporter David Corn about their muckraking on Trump and Russia in the final days of the election. At the time, Steele still worked as an FBI source.

Corn's Oct. 31, 2016, story was one of the most definitive to allege possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow, creating an important talking point for Democrats in the final days of the campaign.

"Glen asked Chris to speak to the Mother Jones reporter. It was Glen's Hail Mary attempt," Ohr wrote.

When Simpson testified before Congress, he said he and Steele acted out of a sense of duty. "For him it was professional obligations. I mean, for both of us it was citizenship. You know, people report crimes all the time"” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In his House testimony, though, he conceded not knowing if what he and Steele dug up amounted to a crime: "At the time that we -- you know, that Chris decided to take this to the FBI, I wasn't convinced of the facts of anything in terms of-- I wasn't convinced that there was a specific crime that occurred."

So, congressional investigators want to know why -- if Simpson acted purely on the basis of civic duty -- he and Steele went to the press shortly before Election Day with allegations before the FBI completed its work.

Now follow me on this: Steele was admonished that when working for the FBI, he was to have no contacts with the media about his "research."

He signed documents acknowledging he had been so admonished, and, presumably, agreed (contractually) to these terms.

Glenn Simpson, who was also paying him, then directed Steele to ignore the rules of the FBI he had agreed to. I imagine Simpson was paying him more.

So Steele did violate his contract with the FBI.

And Simpson induced him to.

Now, I know it's a violation of federal law to induce a civil servant to break the law or deliver a government favor to someone. That's just bribery, or some kind of "corrupt inducement of a federal official" charge.

Is Simpson's paying Steele -- he was paying him, after all -- and then telling him to violate his contract with the FBI also a violation of federal laws against corruptly influencing a federal official? Does Steele's role as a paid CI make him an "official" under the law?

Oh, by the way: Steele, I read, refused his last payment, the one he would have gotten as he was violating his agreement with the FBI, supposedly because he didn't want it to look like he was doing this for pecuniary gain or bullshit like that.

How about this explanation: He knew he was in possible legal jeopardy violating his agreement with the FBI, as directed by Glenn Simpson, and thought that refusing payment during this period would at least be a defense to the charge that he was an "employee" of the federal government while violating its rules.

How's that sound?

What's the law on this?

I don't know, but here's the thing: We'll never know because no one will ever look into this.

Only Republicans must obey the law, including the unwritten laws that corrupt prosecutors dream up when they can't find a violation of a written law.

Solomon notes that investigators want to know what was on that memory stick, among other things.

Sheryl Atkinson wonders what an Intelligence Community "insurance policy" against President Trump would look like. Turns out, it would look a lot like what's actually happened.

Let's begin in the realm of the fanciful. Assume, for the sake of argument, that powerful, connected people in the intelligence community and in politics worried that a wildcard Trump presidency, unlike another Clinton or Bush, might expose a decade-plus of questionable practices. Disrupt long-established money channels. Reveal secret machinations that could arguably land some people in prison.

What exactly might an "insurance policy" against Donald Trump look like?

He would have to be marginalized at every turn. Strategies would encompass politics, the courts, opposition research and the media. He'd have to become mired in lawsuits, distracted by allegations, riddled with calls for impeachment, hounded by investigations. His election must be portrayed as the illegitimate result of a criminal or un-American conspiracy.

To accomplish this, bad actors in the intel community could step up use of surveillance tools as a weapon to look for dirt on Trump before his inauguration. They could rely on dubious political opposition research to secretly argue for wiretaps, plant one or more spies in the Trump campaign, then leak to the press a mix of true and false stories to create a sense of chaos.

Once Trump is in office, a good insurance policy would call for neutralizing the advisers seen as most threatening, including his attorney general. The reigning FBI director could privately send the implicit message that as long as Trump minds his own business, he won’t be named as a target. When the president asks the FBI director to lift the cloud and tell the public their president isn't under investigation, the FBI director could demur and allow a storm of innuendo to build. Idle chatter benefits the plot. There would be rampant media leaks, both true and false, but none of them would benefit Trump.

All would be well unless the president removes the FBI director. Then, a rider on the insurance policy would kick in. After months of assuring Trump he's not under investigation, he must now become a focus to keep him away from the Justice Department and the FBI; once an investigation opens, all of Trump's attempts to affect policy or to dig into allegations against the intelligence community could be portrayed as obstruction of justice.

How to open an investigation after all these months? Appoint a special counsel. (Easy to get the right one, with Trump's attorney general out of the way.) How to get public and congressional support for a special counsel? Through a partnership between the fired FBI director and the media; he could secretly leak to The New York Times anti-Trump versions of memos he wrote, inventing the pretext for a special counsel probe. The chosen special counsel should be an insider with his own legacy to protect. Anti-Trump FBI officials who secretly vowed to "stop” Trump could be assigned to the investigation.

As crazy as it all sounds, it becomes slightly more plausible when we examine the record and find self-described conspiracies to develop "insurance policies."

She then lays out their plans for an "insurance policy" and the steps they took to create one.

Read the whole thing.






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