Members of both the House and the Senate are launching a probe into an infamous report alleging that President Trump has been blackmailed by Russian officials for unsavory activities in a Russian hotel — it’s known as the “Trump dossier.”
The Trump dossier was written by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele in connection with Fusion GPS, an American private opposition research firm. Now, members of Congress are attempting to uncover to what extent the largely discredited document was used to justify monitoring members of the Trump campaign and transition team, as reported by The Daily Caller.
Fired FBI Director James Comey testified in April that he relied on the Trump dossier to bolster the FBI’s investigation into former Trump aide, Carter Page.
The Trump dossier was written by Steele in the lead up to the 2016 election and included highly degrading claims about then-candidate Trump. Fusion GPS shared the unsubstantiated document with at least six mainstream media outlets, in addition to American intelligence officials.
For six months, the six mainstream outlets sat on the baseless document and did not report on its contents. However, after President Trump was elected, news about the then-undisclosed dossier became the subject of beltway gossip. Reports that the dossier was being shared by lawmakers and members of the intelligence community started to bubble up, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), hand-delivered a copy of the dossier to then-FBI Director Comey.
On January 10, 2017, 10 days before President Trump’s inauguration, Buzzfeed published the contents of the dossier, with an editor’s note stating, “the allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors.”
After the contents of the documents were revealed by Buzzfeed, multiple intelligence agencies attempted to distance themselves from the discredited dossier, claiming that they came to the conclusion that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election based on independently-obtained evidence. This claim was undermined by James Comey’s Congressional testimony, wherein he admitted to relying on the Trump dossier.
On October 4th, 2017, members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a series of subpoenas forcing Fusion GPS to testify before the committee in addition to providing bank records.
Fusion GPS, supported by House Democrats, claimed that they were not obliged to obey the subpoena because it was issued by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who recently stepped away from the committee’s Russian investigations. Nunes maintains all other responsibilities as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
On October 16th, attorneys working with Fusion GPS submitted a 17-page documenting informing members of the committee that the Fusion GPS executives would not comply with the subpoena, and they refused to turn over bank records.
Congress is trying to find out the role the dossier played in the unmasking if Trump’s administration. Do you think the dossier was involved?
When two Fusion GPS executives were dragged before Congress on Wednesday, they plead the Fifth and refused to answer any question asked by the Intelligence Committee to avoid self-incriminating testimony. Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson is expected to testify before the Committee over the next couple weeks.
The testimony of Fusion GPS executives is especially relevant because it could support President Trump’s claims that former President Obama spied on him and members of his election campaign. If the Obama administration relied on the unsubstantiated document to justify wiretapping President Trump, it would indicate that the Obama administration relied on unverified information obtained by a private firm to justify one of the most controversial spying campaigns in American history.