The Russian Connection: About That Dossier

Remember the 35 page dossier that was handed to Senator john McCain (R_AZ) that contained explosive information that Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton? You know, the on that contained lurid details of The Donald’s getting Russian prostitutes to urinate on a Moscow hotel room bed on which Barack and Michelle Obama once slept. Yes, that one.

The dossier, reportedly commissioned in September 2015 by a Republican and then bought like a used car by a Democrat in the summer of 2016 after Trump destroyed the other Republican contestants for president, lies at the origin of what we call the no-name scandal. Shared with the government and top journalists, the dossier was first teased into public view by Mother Jones’s David Corn in late October after multiple outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, and the New Yorker viewed it but did not go with it because they could not confirm all of its claims. Sen. John McCain passed it to then FBI Director James Comey in December, and it was finally published by BuzzFeed in January before the inauguration. Written by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, the dossier asserted that the Russian government had cultivated Trump for several years, garnering compromising information about him in the process. Some of the dossier’s claims have been verified, others disproved. Steele himself has said the package itself needs additional verification and has told the FBI the names of his sources.

Apparently, there is a lot of truth to in those thirty five pages. So much truth, that Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of the Washington-based research firm Fusion GPS that hired the author of the document, former MI6 intelligence agent Christopher Steele, answered questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 10 hours. After his testimony, there were calls for the transcript to be made public and for Simpson to come back to testify under oath in public.

Further details on what Simpson said have not been disclosed, but that may soon change. Asked at a town hall in Iowa on Wednesday whether he would make Simpson’s testimony public, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, said he would take a vote of the committee members but he presumes it will be released.

On Thursday, another member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Richard Blumenthal, went a step further, saying not only that he believed the testimony would be released but that Simpson should testify before the committee again—this time in public.

“I certainly will vote to make them public. They should be made public,” Blumenthal told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “But even more important, Glenn Simpson should testify before the committee in the open, under oath, and so should the others who should be subpoenaed to do so as well: Donald Trump Jr. and anyone involved in that meeting in early June that involved apparently Jared Kushner and others.”

Grassley’s originally intended to investigate allegations that Simpson worked on behalf of lobbyists for the Russian government to overturn the Magnitsky Act, and thus determine if he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That backfired with Simpson’s testimony. It’s also been reported that the dossier author, former MI6 agent Steele, has met with the FBI and revealed the names of his sources that were only identified by their initials in the document.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow describes some of the history of “Trump dossier,” and the apparent likelihood that the Senate Judiciary Simpson’s testimony about the dossier will be made public.