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House Releases Transcript of Interview Tied to Trump Dossier

Image: House Releases Transcript of Interview Tied to Trump Dossier
Glenn R. Simpson, co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, arrives for a scheduled appearance before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 14, 2017. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Thursday, 18 January 2018 06:42 PM

Research that led to the creation of a dossier alleging a compromised relationship between President Donald Trump and the Kremlin focused in its early stages on his real estate projects, a history of his tax disputes and "opaque" business deals being done in the former Soviet Union, according to the transcript of a congressional interview released Thursday.

Glenn Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee in a private interview in November that after his firm, Fusion GPS, was hired to look into Trump, it enlisted a former British spy "to figure out what Trump's been up to" in Russia "because he's gone over a bunch of times."

The committee released a transcript of the hours-long interview on Thursday, following the lead of a separate Senate panel that made public its own session with Simpson. The two documents give new details about the origins of the dossier, essentially a series of memos, that for the past year has been a source of political fascination because of sensational allegations of a longstanding Russian effort to aid Trump.

"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, 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," Simpson said. "And I found that mysterious. "

Simpson's firm was hired first by a conservative website with strong ties to the Republican establishment to scour Trump's background for negative information. A law firm representing the Democratic National Committee continued funding Fusion's work after the original GOP source, the Washington Free Beacon, lost interest.

At various points, Simpson advises the committee on how to direct its investigation and outlined what he said were connections between the Trump orbit and Russia. He suggests looking into specific real estate deals with specific people, including some he identifies as having organized crime connections. He also suggests that the investigators subpoena financial records from Deutsche Bank and from real estate brokers involved in Trump deals.

He said he was not aware of inaccuracies in the work of the ex-spy, Christopher Steele, who was hired for the research and relied on a network of his own sources.

At one point during the committee interview, Simpson was asked the central question at the heart of the congressional investigations and that of special counsel Robert Mueller — whether the Trump campaign had coordinated with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Simpson did not say yes or no, but said the patterns of behavior that emerged from the investigation raise questions.

"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 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," Simpson said.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
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A congressional committee has released a transcript of a private interview with the co-founder of the political opposition research firm that commissioned a dossier of allegations involving President Donald Trump's ties to Russia.Glenn Simpson appeared in November before...
house, releases, russia dossier testimony, glenn simpson
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2018-42-18
Thursday, 18 January 2018 06:42 PM
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