Did the FBI Have a Spy in the Trump Campaign?
Something tells me Glenn Simpson did not make a mistake. Something tells me the co-founder of Fusion GPS was dead-on accurate when he testified that Christopher Steele told him the FBI had a “human source” — i.e., a spy — inside the Trump campaign as the 2016 presidential race headed into its stretch run.
The Justice Department’s inability, or at least unwillingness, to reveal exactly how, when, and why the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation has fueled suspicions that a spy who worked for both the FBI and the CIA was deployed against the Trump campaign, probably in Britain — where Papadopoulos had met with suspected agents of the Kremlin, and where Steele compiled the dossier via reports from his unidentified sources.
From painstaking research, Nunes and committee staff believe they have identified such a spy. When they demanded information about this person — whose name remains unknown to the public — the Justice Department’s response was not “No, you’re wrong, there was no spying.” It was first to bloviate that the department would not be “extorted” (Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s unusual understanding of what is more commonly known as congressional oversight) and then to claim that providing the information sought by the committee would risk “potential loss of human lives, damage to relationships with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations, and interference with intelligence activities.”
By now, Nunes has learned that if he is catching flak, he is over the target.
.. Simpson explained that Steele had met with at least one FBI agent in Rome in mid to late September 2016. The former British spy had provided the unverified allegations he had compiled to that point
.. Simpson explained to the Senate committee (my italics):
Essentially, what [Christopher Steele] told me was [the FBI] had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source, and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing, and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump campaign.
.. Sounds like the FBI, with support from the CIA, had some cooperative intelligence venture with British authorities that enabled the Bureau to monitor Trump-campaign figures. That is significant because Papadopoulos has acknowledged meeting in Britain with people who claimed Kremlin ties and who told him Russia had thousands of Clinton’s emails. Did the FBI’s British operation involve using a spy to interact with Trump-campaign figures, such as Papadopoulos, on British soil? Brennan didn’t say.
.. Christopher Steele, the former British spy with extensive British intelligence and FBI connections, told his friend Glenn Simpson that the FBI had penetrated the Trump campaign with a “human source” who was helping corroborate the dossier.
Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right.
.. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.
.. The intelligence committees have known for months that credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia were pouring in from independent sources during the campaign. Yet lawmakers in the thrall of the president continue to wage a cynical campaign to portray us as the unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation.We told Congress that from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering. Likewise, those deals don’t seem to interest Congress... Yes, we hired Mr. Steele, a highly respected Russia expert. But we did so without informing him whom we were working for and gave him no specific marching orders beyond this basic question: Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?.. After the election, Mr. Steele decided to share his intelligence with Senator John McCain via an emissary. We helped him do that. The goal was to alert the United States national security community to an attack on our country by a hostile foreign power... It is time to stop chasing rabbits. The public still has much to learn about a man with the most troubling business past of any United States president. Congress should release transcripts of our firm’s testimony, so that the American people can learn the truth about our work and most important, what happened to our democracy.
Before its emergence on the national stage, Fusion GPS was a low-profile firm made up of several ex-Wall Street Journal reporters.
The firm’s co-founder, Glenn Simpson, was a veteran investigative reporter who left the paper in 2009—citing declining support of investigative reporting by the newspaper industry.
One day after quitting the Journal, Mr. Simpson spoke at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, describing his post-journalism career as an effort “to try and see if we can’t pioneer yet another new model to keep investigations going, keep doing things in the public interest.” Mr. Simpson said he hoped that people in the business world who saw corruption would come forward and be sources for his research.
Mr. Simpson formed a short-lived company called SNS Global LLC. In late 2010, Mr. Simpson founded a new firm called Fusion GPS with Peter Fritsch, a Wall Street Journal alumnus.
.. “It’s funny because this is probably a bit of what most folks think opposition research entails, but it’s really nothing like the kind of research typically employed on political campaigns these days,” said Mike Phillips, a former Democratic opposition researcher who now runs a company called Vigilant that provides political research and intelligence tools. “Opposition research is typically about combing through public records and identifying and vetting key issues, not hiring James Bond to poke around in Eastern Europe.”
.. He noted that the firm’s founder Glenn Simpson gave 10 hours of testimony to a Senate committee in August.
.. Messrs. Simpson, Fritsch and Catan are all former Wall Street Journal reporters.