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    Trump-Russia ties: Release of Fusion GPS transcript indicates Steele dossier author went to FBI

    Trump-Russia ties: Release of Fusion GPS transcript indicates Steele dossier author went to FBI


    In January 2018, the issue of the notorious "Steele Dossier" returned to the fore. To recapitulate: The dossier was a compilation of sensitive financial and personal ties between Trump and Russia.  The dossier was compiled by former British  MI6 Agent  Christopher Steele, who served in Russia, and was produced by a firm called Fusion GPS, founded by  former reporter, Glenn Simpson.  


    When the Steele Dossier first emerged in late 2016, it was due to the fact that it contained material that could place Trump, then the president-elect, at risk of blackmail.  Trump dismissed the claims and has continued to dismiss claims of Russian links to date, despite multiple legal inquiries into the matter.


    At the start of 2018, the president and Republicans in the United States were trying to dismiss the import of the Steele Dossier, by arguing that it was the result of an effort by Democrats in 2016 to go after Trump for political reasons.    


    Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsay Graham went the extra step of publicly referring Steele for criminal investigation. Moreover Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, refused to release the transcript of the committee's ten hours of hearings with Simpson that took place in August 2017.  Their refusal to do so was in contradicton to Simpson's expressed request that the transcript of his testimony be made public.


    Via Twitter, Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu described these decisions by Grassley and Graham as follows: "It was at best, a partisan publicity stunt and, at worst, intentionally designed to mislead the American people."


    In a startling move, and over objections of her Republican colleagues, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein on Jan. 9, 2018, made the decision to release the transcript herself.  Feinstein explained she unilaterally took the move because "the American people deserved to know."  In a statement, Feinstein declared: "The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public."


    This development exposed the chasm between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party on the matter of Russian collusion, and signaled the effective end of bipartisanship on the issue. 


    That transcript made clear that Steele was so alarmed by his findings that he went to the FBI himself. In a "full briefing" with the FBI in the Italian capital of Rome, Steele reported on material that resented  a "national security threat" to the United States.  

    Salacious blackmailable material involving Trump at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow aside, the findings also pointed to coordination between the Trump campaign with the Russians in a program of hacking and leaking, intended to interfere with the 2016 election.


    Stated differently, Steele himself informed the FBI of his findings in 2016 - making clear that the United States' top domestic law enforcement agency was informed of the Trump-Russia connection even before the 2016 election took place.  In Simpson's Senate testimony, he made clear that Steele autonomously selected content of the dossier, not Democrats or Fusion GPS. 


    The transcript released by Feinstein confirmed that the FBI had its own intelligence coinciding with Steele's findings.  Moreover, Simpson, via the transcript, indicated that the FBI intelligence was via a human source or "walk in whistleblower"  from inside the Trump organization.


    But Steele severed his cooperation with the FBI when the New York Times in October 2016 published a front page article asserting that the FBI had found no conclusive link between Trump and Russia.  According to Simpson,  “There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn't really understand what was going on." 


    The full transcript of Simpson's testimony can be found via Senator Feinstein's senate website: 

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