Trump's golden dossier and the perils of whistleblowing

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Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the most recent APEC conference, 11 November 2017 (Image via

A U.S. Democrat Senator on the Judiciary Committee this week released a 300-page committee report after two Republican committeemen requested a Trump-Russia whistleblower be investigated for possible prosecution.

Democrat Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday this week released the previously unpublished August 2017 report without the permission of the Republicans on the committee, which is investigating the Trump-Russia ties before and during the 2016 Presidential election campaign.

Senator Feinstein’s action was in retaliation to Republicans’ threatened prosecution of Trump-Russia whistleblower Christopher Steele. The former British spy reportedly gathered intelligence that Donald Trump was in business partnerships with the Russian mafia and had made himself open to blackmail after being secretly filmed in a hotel room with Russian prostitutes.

Without Californian Senator Fenstein’s knowledge, Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and another Republican committeeman recommended former MI6 agent Mr Steele be investigated for possible prosecution.

The recommendations sprang from a 10-hour committee interview in August of Glenn Simpson, founder of research business Fusion GPS which, on behalf of a client, commissioned Mr Steele to investigate connections between the Trump organisation/ presidential campaign and Russians.

"Russian organised crime is very different from Italian organised crime," Mr Simpson told the committee:

"It's much more sort of a hybrid kind of thing, where they're involved in politics and banking, and there's even a lot of connections between the mafia and the (spy agency) FSB and cyber crime — things that the Italians sort of never figured out."

Ms Feinstein decided to allow the public to form their own view of the committee interview with Simpson, who discussed Mr Steele’s intelligence gathering.

"The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public," Ms Feinstein said.

The transcript of the Glenn Simpson interview released by Senator Feinstein clearly shows the cross-purposes of the Republicans and Democrats on the committee.

Republican lawyers tried to press the case it was Fusion GPS that had established ties with the Russian Government through its research for an American legal firm defending a Russian company accused of money laundering in the United States.

Democrat lawyers, on the other hand, quizzed Mr Simpson about whether he stood by Mr Steele’s allegations of Trump business interests with the Russian mafia and possible blackmail of Trump as a result of clandestine filming of him with two Russian prostitutes engaged in lewd acts.

In what was a voluntary interview,  Mr Simpson, a former journalist, refused to say how he verified the information supplied by Mr Steele in a series of 17 memos, erroneously described by salacious journos as a "dossier".

"People who get in the way of the Russians tend to get hurt," Mr Simpson told the committee.

He did vouch for the integrity of former MI6 agent Mr Steele, who he said was a friend as well as a work colleague:

"I had known Chris since I left the Wall Street Journal [in 2009]. He was the lead Russianist at MI6 prior to leaving the government and an extremely well-regarded investigator, researcher, and, as I say, we're friends, and share interest in Russian kleptocracy and organised crime issues."

Kleptocracy is the systemic government theft from the public purse and most of us can get a sense of the meaning through the more common word, kleptomania.

Mr Simpson and Mr Steele discussed whether they should give authorities their findings on the Trump/Russia connections.

Mr Simpson said Mr Steele

"... thought there was a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed. From my perspective, there was a law enforcement issue about whether there was an illegal conspiracy to violate the campaign laws, and then somewhere in this time the whole issue of hacking [of Democratic Party officials] has also surfaced."

Mr Steele did present the information to a contact in the FBI in July 2016 and he was told someone from the Trump organisation had provided similar information.

Days before the 8 November 2016 Presidential election, FBI director James Comey reopened an inquiry into the Hillary Clinton emails, but did not tell of any inquiry into the Trump-Russia connection.

"Chris severed his relationship with the FBI out of concern that he didn't know what was happening inside the FBI," Mr Simpson said. "There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people."

After the election, the FBI announced a Russia probe and Trump fired Comey in May last year.

Staff at the offices of Fusion GPS received death threats.

Chief lawyer representing Fusion GPS at the committee meeting Joshua Levy said:

"Somebody's already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work."

Mr Levy did not elaborate on the death.

On the same day Dianne Feinstein released the 300-page transcript, Michael Cohen, one of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers, filed a lawsuit against Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed News, which published the 17 memos in January 2017. Mr Cohen is personally mentioned in the memos.

The day after the transcript release, President Trump retweeted a favourite — that the Trump-Russia investigation was ‘the single greatest Witch Hunt in American history’.

Everything associated with Mr Trump has to be the greatest.

Riding through the West on a horse named Kleptocracy

Critics of kleptocracy usually refer to governments of non-Western countries such as some in Africa or the Middle-East. But countries such as the United States, Great Britain and Australia have politicians who engage in nepotism, crony capitalism, patronage by business, and expense rorts which can equally indicate kleptocracy.

In the area of nepotism, some critics believe a motive for President George W. Bush entering the second Iraq War was to finish off the business started by his Daddy when he was president.

Eyebrows were raised when the Clinton Foundation, established by ex-President Bill and his wife, received substantial donations from leaders in foreign countries with which Obama Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was engaged,

Jeb Bush, son of George H. W. and brother of George Dubya, was among those vying for selection as the Republican candidate for 2016. It could have been a Bush-Clinton battle for the White House.

One word which aptly describes Donald Trump is brazen and one thing he is not is a deep thinker so it is not surprising he found White House jobs for daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Mr Kushner has been accused of promoting personal business deals in Israel while he solves the so-called Middle-East Crisis.

Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury tells us Ivanka Trump is considering running for President. Daddy reacted to Wolff’s book, which said his daughter made fun of his hair, by pledging to tighten libel laws.

The full transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee interview with Glenn Simpson may be found HERE

Bernie Dowling is the author of the new release non-fiction book, 'Maaate! Bribe-Proofing the Public Purse Against Good Blokes'. You can follow Bernie on Twitter @bentbananabooks.

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