Wed, 24 Oct 2018
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Congress conservatives misled people, but Trump is fuming

By Sheetal Sukhija, St Petersburg News
11 Jan 2018, 11:10 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Despite objections from her Republican colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) went ahead and released the bombshell transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s congressional testimony.

The move, which escalated partisan tensions, sent angers soaring in the Republican side as Feinstein’s expose included Simpson’s transcript on the controversial Trump-Russia dossier by Christopher Steele.

Simpson's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election included some shocking details, which experts now are dubbing as information that debunked a key Republican theory on Trump and Russia.

Expressing his dissatisfaction with Feinstein’s move, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter and said called the Democrat “sneaky.”

Trump tried to shed more light on indications that there was something illegal about the release of the testimony, hoping that the key takeaway from the testimony would be ignored.

Trump wrote on Twitter, “The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace. Must have tough Primary!”

According to experts, that testimony revealed how conservatives in Congress have been misleading people about the origins of the FBI investigation into Trump and Russia.

 After Trump’s tweet, legal experts even emphasized that no law had been broken since although Simpson testified in a closed session, he wasn’t discussing classified information or anything about anyone’s private life. 

Even though some Republicans warned against the release - Simpson had already publicly called for the full release of his testimony.

Feinstein is only said to have violated the normal rules of Senate decorum.

The testimony revealed that the key takeaway is that the FBI was already investigating potential links between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government before they got the Steele dossier. 

Simpson clearly stated in his testimony that when Steele spoke to the FBI about his findings, the bureau “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 organization.”

Feinstein said in her defense, “The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves. 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."

For months now, Conservatives have been pushing a theory that the reason the FBI launched an investigation was an opposition research document compiled at the behest of Clinton’s campaign. 

However, Simpson’s testimony confirmed the opposite that it indeed was the tip off received from the Australian diplomat Alexander Downer that kicked off the probe, and thereby debunks a conservative counter narrative that places the dossier itself at the center of the story.

A recent report in the New York Times confirmed that Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, accidentally kicked off the Trump–Russia investigation by telling the Australian diplomat Downer that Russia had political dirt on Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, after a night of heavy drinking in May 2016.

The 312-page transcript details an August 22 interview with Simpson, in which he told the Senate panel that the author of the dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, decided to approach the FBI in July 2016 to brief the bureau on his findings about Trump. 

He said that when Steele met with an FBI official in September, the official told Steele the bureau “had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source.”

Meanwhile, Trump said in a subsequent Tweet, “The single greatest Witch Hunt in American history continues. There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems knows there was no collusion, & yet on and on it goes. Russia & the world is laughing at the stupidity they are witnessing. Republicans should finally take control!”

On Wednesday, Senator Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview that he will demand the declassification of documents related to his decision to send the FBI a criminal referral of Steele.

Graham added that he wished Feinstein had consulted with panel Chairman Chuck Grassley before releasing the transcript.

He added that more documents now need to be released to put the Fusion GPS story in fuller context.

Adding, “I want the public to see some of the things that Mr. Steele said and did. We’re not going to get half the story.”

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