“Top officials with the Hillary Clinton campaign re-engaged with the opposition researchers behind the Steele dossier just three weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration, newly declassified congressional witness transcripts reveal, indicating her campaign’s participation in an ongoing and well-funded effort to undermine the president by casting him as a tool of the Kremlin.
Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta testified that he met on Feb. 10, 2017, with Daniel Jones, a former aide to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Glenn Simpson and his partner Peter Fritsch of Fusion GPS. In separate testimony, Clinton’s senior foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan revealed he also participated in the meeting. The Clinton campaign had funneled money through a law firm, Perkins Coie, to pay Fusion to compile the now-discredited dossier which was a prime driver of the Trump-Russia conspiracy theories – and FBI investigations — that have shadowed his administration.
“They were interested in trying to raise money to continue their efforts to investigate the Russian interference in the campaign,” Podesta told the House Intelligence Committee in December 2017. The transcripts of his and Sullivan’s testimony were among the dozens of Russiagate interviews that had been withheld from the public for more than two years before being released last week.
Podesta said he agreed to help the trio open doors to big Democratic fund-raisers and sit down for press interviews and documentaries regarding any “new developments” uncovered by dossier author and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Sullivan accompanied Podesta to the meeting, which he said lasted about an hour and was held in an office building in Washington.
“Was the conversation about the then-dossier?” a House panel staffer asked Sullivan, who had previously worked in the Obama administration as Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser.
“I mean not specifically about the dossier,” Sullivan replied. “lt was sort of about the effort that they had put into finding out ties between Trump and Russia and what their belief was based on the accumulation on that.”
Sullivan testified behind closed doors in a separate hearing held about two weeks after Podesta’s testimony.
Neither man was asked whether their efforts were known by Clinton, who has publicly suggested that Russia has compromising information. Podesta’s testimony did confirm earlier reporting by RealClearInvestigations that Clinton knew her campaign was paying opposition researchers to examine Trump’s ties to Russia.
Just 10 days before the February 2017 meeting, Jones had incorporated a nonprofit called The Democracy Integrity Project (known internally as TDIP) after huddling with Simpson. The goal of their ongoing project is to “prove” the allegations in the dossier while digging up new dirt on Trump and feeding it to media outlets, congressional investigators and the FBI to derail his presidency.” (Read more: RealClearInvestigations, 5/14/2020) (Archive)