The co-founder of the shady opposition research firm behind the infamous Russian dossier on President Donald Trump is refusing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, according to Politico.
The committee listed Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, as a witness in the July 19 hearing, titled Oversight of the Justice Department’s (Non) Enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act: Lessons from the Obama Administration and Current Compliance Practices.
— Ned Ryun (@nedryun) July 14, 2017
Now there’s speculation that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, might subpoena him.
The unverified dossier claimed that Trump and Russia colluded to torpedo Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and included salacious details that have been widely debunked.
During the 2016 campaign, Simpson’s firm hired the British spy Christopher Steele, who ultimately produced the infamous dossier, which suggests Trump took part in an intricate Kremlin-backed plot to ascend to the White House. He and the White House have strenuously denied the allegations in the document.
The decision by Grassley to call Simpson to speak publicly is one of the riskiest moves in Congress’ 6-month-old probes into Russian meddling in the presidential election. And it amounts to a decision to rip the bandage off an investigation that has at times crawled along slowly.
“I think we need to find out what the facts are and let the chips fall where they may,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee.
The committee called Simpson — who helped establish Fusion GPS in 2009 — to testify during a larger hearing about the role of foreign lobbying.
Simpson joins CrowdStrike and Susan Rice, two other RussiaGate players who have resisted efforts to appear before Congress.
CrowdStrike is the private cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC that concluded that Putin hacked the presidential election.
CrowdStrike, based in Irvine, California, is also the only group that the DNC allowed to directly examine its servers. Not even the FBI has been granted access to the servers.
U.S. agencies have instead relied on CrowdStrike’s work. There is no other known forensic evidence which has been publicly disclosed to link the Kremlin to the attacks, including in a series of intelligence community statements and reports.
Questions have since emerged about the reliability of the company’s findings.
Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s longtime national security adviser, declined back in May to testify before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism about Russian activities during the 2016 election campaign. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who had requested that Rice appear, has been particularly curious about her unmasking activities during the campaign. At the end of June Rice finally agreed to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing which will be held sometime before the August recess.
Now NBC is reporting that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist, described as “a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence.”
Veselnitskaya allegedly had nothing of real value to offer at the meeting and spent most of her time talking about repealing the Magnitsky Act, 2012 legislation that imposes U.S. economic sanctions against Russia. Fusion GPS was also allegedly involved in the pro-Russia campaign to kill the Global Magnitsky Act at the time.
The Russian-born American lobbyist served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship.
Veselnitskaya acknowledged to NBC News that she was accompanied by at least one other man, though she declined to identify him.
The presence at the meeting of a Russian-American with suspected intelligence ties is likely to be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate panels investigating the Russian election interference campaign.
Isn’t it interesting that a Russian-born American lobbyist with a Soviet counter-intelligence background just happens to have been tied to Fusion GPS?
Via Circa News, back in April:
An admitted former Russian spy who now works as a lobbyist in Washington and has been tied to the creators of the unverified Trump dossier may have lobbied against Russian sanctions, according to a letter by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
Grassley requested all immigration information available on Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian citizen who became an American citizen in 2009, in a letter written Tuesday. He cited a July 2016 complaint alleging Akhmetshin had not registered as a foreign agent as required by law.
Akhmetshin was described by Radio Free Europe as a “Russian gun-for-hire [lurking] in the shadows of Washington’s lobbying world.” In one interview, he admitted to having worked as a Soviet counterintelligence officer. In another interview, he denied it. He would have had to mention his intelligence work when applying for U.S. citizenship.
He allegedly worked with Fusion GPS, the company behind the unverified dossier that claimed ties between President Trump and Russia.
Akhmetshin’s campaign allegedly targeted the Global Magnitsky Act. Passed by Congress in December, the bill applies sanctions to human rights abusers and corrupt leaders. It was originally named for Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for Hermitage Capital Management who was killed by Russian authorities after exposing a tax fraud scheme.
You know who else was hugely opposed to the Magnitsky Act and expressed opposition which just happened to coincide with her husband’s $500,000 speech in Moscow for a Russian investment bank?
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 14, 2017
In December 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hillary Clinton opposed the Magnitsky Act while serving as secretary of state. Her opposition coincided with Bill Clinton giving a speech in Moscow for Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank—for which he was paid $500,000. “Mr. Clinton also received a substantial payout in 2010 from Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank whose executives were at risk of being hurt by possible U.S. sanctions tied to a complex and controversial case of alleged corruption in Russia. Members of Congress wrote to Mrs. Clinton in 2010 seeking to deny visas to people who had been implicated by Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who was jailed and died in prison after he uncovered evidence of a large tax-refund fraud. William Browder, a foreign investor in Russia who had hired Mr. Magnitsky, alleged that the accountant had turned up evidence that Renaissance officials, among others, participated in the fraud.” The State Department opposed the sanctions bill at the time, as did the Russian government.
You know who strongly supports the Global Magnitsky Act?
U.S. President Donald Trump unexpectedly declared strong support for an EU law aimed at cracking down on human rights violators worldwide that Congress initially adopted to punish rights abuses in Russia.
“Over the coming weeks and months, agencies will undertake thorough interagency vetting to ensure we fulfill our commitment to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses and corruption accountable,” Trump wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders Thursday.Trump’s surprisingly strong statement in support of the law, called the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, drew cautious praise Friday from the law’s main champion, Bill Browder, a British investment banker and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin
The American Spectator’s Scott McKay doesn’t think so.
McKay asks: “Which theory is harder to believe?”
That Trump, who had never run for office before and who was panned as a clown by the Democrats and the media right up until Election Night last November, orchestrated a grand coup d’état with the assistance of the Russians to “hack” an American election, and that it was so well hidden that the Don Junior meeting is the only real evidence unearthed so far of the whole thing…
…Or that the Obama administration and the Democratic Party used their immense power to attempt to ensnare the Trumps in a damaging narrative that would either discredit him and the Republican Party as traitors in the event of a Clinton victory or cripple his administration in “scandal” should he pull an upset?
Is the RussiaGate house of cards finally collapsing?
— Ned Ryun (@nedryun) July 14, 2017