IN-DEPTH: FEINSTEIN RELEASES FUSION GPS TESTIMONY
On Tuesday, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a transcript of Senate testimony given by Glenn Simpson, the founder of research firm Fusion GPS. (Simpson spoke with the Senate Judiciary Committee back in August.) The nearly 300 page transcript gives insight into the creation of the infamous dossier by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, which was initially published in early 2017 by BuzzFeed and made numerous ties between Trump's campaign and prominent Russian figures. It also reveals the different approaches employed by the committee's Republican and Democratic senators.
On the GOP side, the effort was largely focused on discrediting the dossier, and indicating that Fusion - which had initially been hired by conservative donors, and later by the Clinton campaign - was purposefully digging up dirt on Trump and passing it along to government investigators.
Democrats on the committee, on the other hand, focused their questioning on the connections Steele and Fusion found between Russia and the Trump campaign. They also noted that Simpson, Fusion and Steele felt obligated to turn over what they had discovered to the FBI, rather than being compelled or assigned to do so, as they believed Trump was a potential target for blackmail.
Simpson's testimony indicates that the FBI already had some of the information contained in the dossier before meeting with Steele and Fusion in September of 2016, thanks to a "walk-in whistleblower" from within Trump's orbit. Simpson also claimed that Steele stopped collaborating with the FBI in late October of that year, believing that they were actively working in favor of the Trump campaign, and he made the widely-shared allegation that an unnamed person has "already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier."
President Trump criticized Sen. Feinstein and her decision to release the transcript in a series of tweets on Wednesday, nicknaming her "Sneaky Dianne Feinstein." He called her release of the document "possibly illegal" and "a disgrace." Feinstein told an NBC News producer that she regretted not telling Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, about her plans in advance, blaming the failure to do so on "a bad cold."
When asked on Wednesday about whether or not he'd be personally interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller, President Trump declined to give a concrete answer. The questioning came during Trump's appearance alongside Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway. The President said he would consult his attorneys about the possibility of doing the interview - first raised in the media earlier this week - adding "we'll see what happens." Trump once more referred to the special counsel's investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government as a "witch hunt" and a "Democrat hoax."
A new Politico poll, published on Wednesday, indicates that about 48% of voters believe President Trump will be exonerated of collusion charges in 2018.