A source within the Trump campaign reported concerns to the FBI about Russia’s election interference, according to the man behind a controversial dossier on Donald Trump, a new transcript reveals.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday unilaterally released the transcript of a congressional interview with Glenn Simpson, whose research firm, Fusion GPS, was behind the dossier on alleged contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.
The dossier makes an allegation that there was a “conspiracy of cooperation” between Russian agents and the Trump campaign, and the president has frequently scorned it since its publication last January.
According to the transcript, Simpson told the senators that “an internal Trump campaign source” or “a human source from inside the Trump organization” reported his or her concerns to the FBI.
This information was drawn from Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier during the 2016 presidential campaign, after the FBI “had debriefed him” that fall, according to Simpson.
In his August interview with the Senate committee, Simpson said that Steele approached the FBI earlier in 2016 because “he thought from his perspective there was an issue – a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed”.
“He honed in on this issue of blackmail as being a significant national security issue,” Simpson said.
“I think it was a voluntary source, someone who was concerned about the same concerns we had. It was someone who decided to pick up the phone and report something,” He added.
He said that Steele did not rely on this source for his work with the firm.
Simpson also revealed that Steele “severed his relationship with the FBI” after the New York Times published a story in late October that said agents had not found “any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government”.
The former British spy was concerned “that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on”, Simpson said. “So he stopped dealing with them.”
Simpson said that the firm’s research into Trump’s past began as “a kind of holistic examination” of his business record. “It evolved somewhat quickly into issues of his relationships to organized crime figures, but you know, really the gamut of Donald Trump,” Simpson said.
Simpson also defended Steele, saying that the well-respected former intelligence officer “has a sterling reputation as a person who doesn’t exaggerate, doesn’t make things up, doesn’t sell baloney”.
By late September 2016 asked Steele about contacts with the FBI, with whom the British researcher had spoken. “By then it was obvious there was a crime in progress,” Simpson said. “So I was curious whether he’d heard back.”
Pressed about this claim, Simpson said: “Espionage. They were hacking into the computers of Democrats and thinktanks. That’s a computer crime.”
Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee, said she released the transcript because “the American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves”.