The Walls Close In on Trump: FBI Knew of Collusion Allegations During Campaign

trump russia steele dossierFirm behind Steele dossier alleging links between Trump’s team and Russia says FBI had seen credible evidence of collusion throughout 2016 campaign.

The investigative firm behind the Steele dossier – the controversial memo that alleged extensive collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign officials and Russia – has claimed that the FBI received “credible allegations” about a Kremlin conspiracy throughout the 2016 US election campaign, including from inside the Trump camp.

An op-ed in the New York Times written by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, the former journalists and founders of investigative firm Fusion GPS, said congressional intelligence committees, which are conducting their own investigations into the Trump campaign, have been aware of the allegations for months.

“We don’t believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling,” they wrote. “As we told the Senate judiciary committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.”

The op-ed also called on lawmakers to examine financial institutions that were funding the US president’s businesses.

The article represents the first time that Simpson and Fritsch have offered a detailed public account of their firm’s involvement in the Russia investigation. In it, they allege that Republican lawmakers are waging a “cynical campaign” to portray Fusion GPS and the now infamous Steele dossier as “unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation”.

The Steele dossier first came to public attention a year ago, when it was published by Buzzfeed. The memos written by a former British intelligence agent and Russia expert, Christopher Steele, made a series of allegations, including multiple secret meetings between Trump campaign officials and Russian agents.

Trump has decried all the allegations as false, and has adamantly denied there was any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

Four individuals, including three former campaign officials, have so far been indicted as part of an ongoing criminal federal investigation into whether or not Trump officials conspired with the Kremlin, including Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Flynn is now cooperating with the investigation.

For months, it was suspected that the Steele dossier, which was shared with US intelligence agencies after the 2016 election, may have prompted the FBI’s decision to open an investigation into the matter.

But subsequent reporting, including by the Guardian and the New York Times, has shown that US intelligence agencies were prompted to investigate the issues before they received the dossier. The Guardian reported in April that foreign intelligence services, including Britain’s GCHQ, were among the first to alert US counterparts to contacts between Trump’s campaign and Kremlin operatives.

The New York Times reported last week that Australian officials passed information about a Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, to US counterparts after he bragged that Russia had compromising information about Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate.

Even as new facts emerge and key officials have been indicted, including Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, the focus of some congressional committees has been fixed on Simpson, the former investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and co-founder of Fusion GPS.

In his op-ed, Simpson compared Republican attacks against him, which have been led in the Senate by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, to efforts by Republicans to protect Richard Nixon during the Watergate era. Simpson has testified before three congressional committees – albeit behind closed doors – and has explained how his clients, the Washington Free Beacon and the Clinton campaign, came to hire Fusion GPS, setting off the private investigation into the Trump campaign.

Read more at The Guardian