January 10, 2018 — By Devlin Barrett and Tom Hamburger

The political battle over the FBI and its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election intensified Tuesday with the release of an interview with the head of the firm behind a dossier of allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump.

The transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn R. Simpson’s interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee was released by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the panel’s senior Democrat, over the objections of Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

Feinstein’s action comes alongside an effort by Republicans to discredit the dossier as a politically motivated document that the FBI has relied too heavily upon in its investigation. Feinstein sought to push back against that perception and to bolster the FBI’s credibility.

“The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation,” she said.

Grassley, who said Feinstein’s move “undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work,” had refused requests by Simpson to release his entire 10-hour interview, which was conducted in August.

The Russia probe got its start with a drunken conversation, an ex-spy, WikiLeaks and a distracted FBI. 

The Senate committee has been probing how the FBI handled allegations it received from a British ex-spy, Christopher Steele, who compiled a series of memorandums, later collected as a dossier, alleging that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin — a claim the president has repeatedly denied.

The 312-page transcript shows that Republican staffers on the committee repeatedly pressed Simpson about whether he had political motivations in hiring Steele. Simpson acknowledged that he didn’t like Trump as a candidate but said his job was to find facts, not to push an agenda.

In his testimony, Simpson said Steele contacted the FBI with concerns about Russian meddling in early July 2016. When the bureau reinterviewed Steele in early October, agents made it clear, according to Simpson’s testimony released Tuesday, that they believed some of what Steele had told them.

Simpson also said Steele was told that the FBI had someone inside Trump’s network providing agents with information — a claim he also made in an op-ed for the New York Times last week.

“My understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris 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,” Simpson said.

Link to Washington Post article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/feinstein-releases-testimony-of-glenn-simpson-whose-research-firm-fusion-gps-was-behind-trump-dossier/2018/01/09/15da150a-f562-11e7-beb6-c8d48830c54d_story.html?utm_term=.4bbe0cd9482df