Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson and DOJ official Bruce Ohr (whose wife worked for Fusion) met shortly after Trump won the election, and Ohr made notes about what they talked about:
THE HILL – 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.
Source: Russian intelligence officer in the US
Simpson allegedly acknowledged that most of the information Fusion GPS and British intelligence operative Christopher Steele developed did not come from sources inside Moscow. “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.,” Ohr scribbled in his notes.
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.
Early on, Ohr’s notes detail, the conversation focused on a theory apparently offered by Simpson that revolving Trump team members — former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, followed by informal adviser Carter Page, then personal lawyer Michael Cohen — forged a secret channel with Moscow to hijack the election.
All three men long have been cited in the Russia investigation; each denies any coordination with Russia. But Ohr’s notes are the first to quote Simpson as suggesting the three essentially were shark-tooth spies who replaced each other in a secret plot.
“He identified Michael Cohen, a lawyer in Brooklyn w. Russian (Brighton Beach) clients, as the go-between from Russia to the Trump campaign who replaced Manafort and Carter Page,” Ohr’s notes read, quoting Simpson’s alleged narrative.
The notes suggest guilt by association, citing Cohen’s wife and suggesting one of Cohen’s in-laws had real estate dealings in Moscow “with ties to the Kremlin.”
“Cohen may have attended a meeting in Prague, possibly in September, about this,” Ohr quoted Simpson as saying — a claim that became public a month later, in January 2017, when BuzzFeed published a version of Steele’s uncorroborated dossier.
Cohen’s lawyers have rebutted every mention of their client in the dossier, pointedly noting he never has been to Prague.
Solomon, who wrote this article, explained that he showed these notes he’d obtained to career intelligence professionals for their take. You can read about it over there, but in short they said…
The alleged Simpson statement that he went to the media as a “Hail Mary” stood out to those professionals as an act of desperation that they would see as weighing against the motives of an intelligence source.
And they wondered if the Russian intel officer in the US was simply part of a ‘kompromat’ operation to “roil the US election”. (Kompromat means “compromising information” meant to harm politicians)
They also thought Ohr had no business even meeting with Simpson as he wasn’t involved in the investigation:
And all wondered why a Justice official — Ohr — who was not in the chain of command in the Russia counterintelligence probe, and whose wife worked for Fusion GPS on the Trump project, interviewed Simpson at all.
The Ohr interview and many other now-public actions in the Russia collusion case are “breaking every protocol at the fundamental level of intelligence gathering,” one highly decorated intelligence professional told me.
Read the full article at THE HILL.