Glenn Simpson: The Fusion GPS founder behind the notorious Steele Dossier that spurred Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia probe
Simpson was responsible for commissioning and supervising the notorious dossier that suggested Trump had ties to Russian special interests.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller who led the Trump-Russia investigation declined to justify why there was no mention of Fusion GPS in his extensive 448-page report as he testified before Congress on Wednesday.
“I’m not familiar with that,” Mueller said.
Fusion GPS was hired by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump's campaign during the 2016 presidential election. The intelligence firm subsequently hired British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled an unverified dossier on the future president's alleged ties to Russia. Mueller was pressed by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) on why the company or its founder Glenn Simpson were nowhere mentioned in his report on the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In response, Mueller stressed multiple times that Chabot's questions were "outside of my purview" and that anything related to the said entities was “being handled by others at the Department of Justice.”
“We know that the Clinton campaign did pay Fusion GPS to gather dirt on the Trump campaign from persons associated with foreign governments. But your report doesn’t mention a thing about Fusion GPS in it,” Chabot told Mueller. “Can you see that from neglecting to mention Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS’ involvement with the Clinton campaign to focusing on a brief meeting at the Trump Tower that produced nothing to ignoring the Clinton campaign’s own ties to Fusion GPS why some view your report as a pretty one-sided attack on the president?”
“That is still outside of my purview,” Mueller said.
But who is Glenn Simpson?
He is a former investigative journalist who left the Wall Street Journal in 2009 to form Fusion GPS, a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm based in Washington, D.C.
While his earlier role as an investigative reporter sought to find the truth behind narratives and propaganda, Fusion GPS works for corporations, high-net-worth individuals, and governments who pay real money.
Simpson notably organized a calumny campaign against a wealthy investor named William Browder, who many consider Putin's staunch nemesis and the man behind the disruptive Magnitsky Act. The landmark legislation limits banking and travel for Russian operatives and oligarchs directly or indirectly responsible for human rights abuses.
That said, Simpson was responsible for commissioning and supervising the notorious dossier that suggested Trump had ties to Russian special interests.
As mentioned earlier, the dossier was compiled by former British intelligence officer Steele, who included in it salacious allegations about President Trump and Russian prostitutes. The collusion claims compiled in the document eventually helped spur the widely-discussed FBI investigation led by Mueller.
Senior Justice Attorney Bruce Ohr revealed in a closed congressional testimony last year that Simpson had provided the Justice Department with a pen drive in December 2016 allegedly containing Fusion GPS' opposition research on the president.
Ohr's testimony shed light on the wide access Simpson had gained to the highest levels of the DoJ and the FBI, The Washington Times reported.
The former associate deputy attorney general revealed how he became a conduit between the FBI, Simpson, and his contractor Steele. At the time, the FBI was probing the Trump campaign for possible election collusion with Kremlin.
According to Ohr, the thumb drive he received from Simpson and delivered to the FBI was his second from Fusion GPS, claiming his wife Nellie -- who was hired by the firm as a Russia expert -- was provided the first one before the 2016 election.
Ohr met with Simpson multiple times before and after the election. Furthermore, he was also in touch with Steele, and continued communicating with him via WhatsApp, Skype, and phone calls for over a year.
The material from Fusion was also shared with former FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page -- two lovers who were later found to be sharing text messages denigrating Trump and discussing how to stop him from getting elected.
“I wanted to get the information, whatever information they had. I wanted to get it to the FBI, and I wanted to try to create the situation for people like Glenn Simpson to talk to the FBI,” Ohr told Congress.
Aside from the US political drama, Simpson has a sizeable history of investigating corruption in and around Russia.
In 2007, when Simpson worked with WSJ, he garnered national attention with his front-page story, "How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington." The article highlighted how Republican political adviser Paul Manafort had begun working for Russian-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych just months after the Orange Revolution overturned Yanukovych's victory in the 2004 presidential race.
After leaving journalism to conduct private investigations for high profile clients, Simpson began working with reputed law firm BakerHostetler, which includes John Moscow, a prominent white-collar prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney's office.
One of Simpson's more recognized cases saw him work on behalf of Faith Zaman and Thomas Derbyshire, two British lawyers who successfully sued Prince Jefri Bolkiah -- the brother of the Sultan of Brunei -- in a case that featured scandalous photos of statues portraying the prince engaging in sexual intercourse with several women.
Another high-profile client of Simpson's was Planned Parenthood, which sparked controversy in 2015 after a series of videos showed staffers claiming the group raked in profits from selling aborted fetal tissues to researchers. While Simpson got forensic experts to conclude the videos were doctored and were not a reliable representation of facts, several conservative groups opposed the finding at the time and accused him of working for pro-Planned Parenthood Democrats.