In a surprising move that defied foot-dragging Republicans in Congress, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a crucial set of transcripts that have become the target of a protracted battle in connection with the ongoing Russia investigation.
On Tuesday afternoon, Feinstein released nearly 400 pages of testimony transcripts from Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, who previously testified in private before members of Congress. Fusion GPS is the private research firm that assembled the now famous dossier on Trump.
Specifically, Fusion hired former British spy Christopher Steele in 2016 to assemble the widely confirmed intelligence document that detailed Trump’s many shocking connections with Russian business operatives over the years, as well as the Kremlin’s attempt to get him elected president. The document also raised concerns about the threat of Trump being blackmailed by Russian operatives who have so much compromising information about him.
Republicans, busy trying to create political cover for the White House, have waged war on the dossier and on Fusion GPS in recent months.
Many in the GOP seem convinced that if they can raise doubts about its legitimacy and how the dossier was used (or not used) by the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, they will somehow be able to taint the entire probe into Trump’s past.
Specifically, Republicans are trying to prove that it was the dossier that prompted the entire Russian investigation by the FBI in 2016.
But the just-released transcripts debunk that:
Last week, in a defense of their work published in The New York Times, Simpson and his colleague Peter Fritsch pushed back against the GOP witch hunt. They demanded that the transcripts from their Congressional testimony be released to the public in order to clear up the misinformation Republicans are spreading about the company and about Steele.
With no signs of GOP action on that front, Feinstein made the move herself on Tuesday.
“The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves,” Feinstein said in a statement. “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.”
The transcript “illustrates the credibility of Christopher Steele,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told CNN on Tuesday. The congressman stressed Steele’s “impeccable credentials.”
Last week, two Republican senators, Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham, wrote to the Department of Justice, demanding that a criminal prosecution be undertaken to target Steele for allegedly lying to FBI investigators.
As Los Angeles-based Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu notes, those accusations now seem to be based more in politics than in reality. Leiu reacted to the release by tweeting, “Fusion GPS transcript shows that what Senators Grassley & Graham did last week in publicly referring Christopher Steele for criminal investigation was, at best, a partisan publicity stunt and, at worst, intentionally designed to mislead the American people.”
It was noteworthy that they did not provide the DOJ any information about Steele that investigators did not already have. Meaning, if the FBI thought there was any wrongdoing, it would have acted on that long ago.
The newly released transcripts could go a long way towards debunking all kinds of GOP misinformation. Feinstein made the right move on behalf of the American people.