Disinformation, Fusion GPS style

Early yesterday I wrote briefly about the New York Times op-ed column by Fusion GPS principals Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. I appended the dossier itself to my comments to let readers see the disparity between the column’s claims and their description of it.

NRO’s Andrew McCarthy explicitly exposes the deep duplicity of the Simpson/Fritsch column and of the Times itself in “Beating a hasty retreat from the Steele dossier.” McCarthy demonstrates that Simpson and Fritsch are on a mission akin to that of their man Christopher Steele with his dossier. That is, they are peddling disinformation.

Simpson is of course a former Wall Street Journal reporter. The Journal’s Kim Strassel has seen through Simpson’s game for some time, as she did in her November 2017 column “Lifting the Steele curtain” (“The dossier amounts to one of the dirtiest tricks in U.S. political history”)(behind the Journal’s paywall). Today the Journal comments editorially on the Simpson/Fritsch column in “Fusion’s Russia fog” (behind the Journal paywall). It nicely complements McCarthy’s column. It calls out “the sob story spun by Fusion GPS founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch Wednesday in a New York Times op-ed that matches the Steele dossier for disinformation.” I hear the voice of Strassel singing in the editorial:

The Fusion duo portray themselves as valiantly working to “highlight Mr. Trump’s Russia ties” by providing the FBI with “intelligence reports” that corroborated “credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia.”

For exercising their “right under the First Amendment,” Fusion laments that it has been subject to Congressional harassment and a “succession of mendacious conspiracy theories,” including by us. Oh my.

Fusion is talented at producing dirt for hire, including for Russians to smear human-rights activist Bill Browder. The problem is the veracity of its work, and the cofounders don’t name a single example in their op-ed of something that proves the dossier’s claim of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Eighteen months after the dossier hit Washington, the FBI, special counsel Robert Mueller and Congress have also offered no public validation of its collusion allegations.

The Fusion boys pat themselves on the back for “having handed over our relevant bank records,” but the firm stonewalled Congressional committees for most of 2017, refusing to divulge the names of its clients (the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee) and even suing to prevent access to its bank records. In court documents, Fusion has also admitted to paying journalists during the election, though it refuses to disclose the names, amounts or purposes of the payments.

As Mr. Browder notes on Twitter, the Fusion op-ed also “conveniently omits” that it “worked for Russian gov’t interests trying to repeal Magnitsky Act [sanctions] at the same time [it] was working on the dossier.” Mr. Simpson met with his Russian client, Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, before and after she sat with Donald Trump Jr. in Trump Tower in June 2016.

Mr. Simpson continues to claim he knew nothing about her Trump meeting and that she knew nothing of his Steele dossier work—though you’ll have to take his word for the coincidence. As for Fusion’s deep concern about “an attack on our country by a hostile foreign power,” the firm’s concern about Russia—and its human-rights abuses, for which the Magnitsky sanctions were imposed—would seem to stop at its bank account.

The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross reports on the response of the congressional panels impugned by Simpson and Fritsch in “Senate panel hits back at Fusion GPS over op-ed claims.” Ross’s report adds valuable context to the Simpson/Fritsch claim. Ross, for example, quotes a House Intelligence Committee source: “‘It’s hard to believe Fusion GPS representatives really want these transcripts made public, especially since two of them pleaded the fifth,’ said the source, referring to Fritsch and fellow Fusion partner Thomas Catan’s decision to take the fifth during a closed-door interview in October.”

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