In an oped piece for the New York Times, Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch, founders of the research firm Fusion GPS, which collected the so-called Steele Dossier on President Trump, asked Congress to release transcripts of their 21 hours of testimony regarding Russian collusion and interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In the scathing piece, they accuse Republicans in Congress of covering up the truth about the dossier and Trump's Russia ties.
A generation ago, Republicans sought to protect President Richard Nixon by urging the Senate Watergate committee to look at supposed wrongdoing by Democrats in previous elections. The committee chairman, Sam Ervin, a Democrat, said that would be 'as foolish as the man who went bear hunting and stopped to chase rabbits'."
"Today, amid a growing criminal inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election," they state, "congressional Republicans are again chasing rabbits. We know because we’re their favorite quarry."
"In the year since the publication of the so-called Steele dossier — the collection of intelligence reports we commissioned about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia — the president has repeatedly attacked us on Twitter."
Report out that Obama Campaign paid $972,000 to Fusion GPS. The firm also got $12,400,000 (really?) from DNC. Nobody knows who OK'd!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1509363456.0
"His allies in Congress have dug through our bank records and sought to tarnish our firm to punish us for highlighting his links to Russia. Conservative news outlets and even our former employer, The Wall Street Journal, have spun a succession of mendacious conspiracy theories about our motives and backers."
We are happy to correct the record. In fact, we already have."
Fritsch and Simpson state they testified before 3 separate congressional committees for a total of 21 hours. During that testimony they addressed conservative backlash about who hired them. The Washington Free Beacon and the Clinton campaign, Republican and Democratic funders of their Trump research, hired them separately.
They spoke about a yearlong effort to "decipher Mr. Trump’s complex business past". They also claim they handed over all relevant bank records, but refused requests for the records of companies that have nothing to do with the Trump case, calling such a request a "fishing expedition."
Fritsch and Simpson say Republicans refuse to release full transcripts of their testimony, but implicate them in leaks of details to conservative media outlets. Those selective leaks and the harm to their reputation are why they want the full transcripts released.
It’s time to share what our company told investigators."
"We don’t believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling," they state. "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 intelligence committees have known for months that credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia were pouring in from independent sources during the campaign. Yet lawmakers in the thrall of the president continue to wage a cynical campaign to portray us as the unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation."
Simpson and Fritsch suggested congressional investigators look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Trump’s businesses. They allege congress ignored their advice and subpoenaed Fusion GPS bank records instead.
We found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering. Likewise, those deals don’t seem to interest Congress."
"We explained how, from our past journalistic work in Europe, we were deeply familiar with the political operative Paul Manafort’s coziness with Moscow and his financial ties to Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin."
Fusion GPS hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, a highly respected Russia expert. Steele was asked to investigate one question for Fusion GPS: "Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?".
"What came back shocked us," they state. "Mr. Steele’s sources in Russia (who were not paid) reported on an extensive — and now confirmed — effort by the Kremlin to help elect Mr. Trump president. Mr. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the F.B.I. We did not discuss that decision with our clients, or anyone else. Instead, we deferred to Mr. Steele, a trusted friend and intelligence professional with a long history of working with law enforcement. We did not speak to the F.B.I. and haven’t since."
Mr. Steele decided to share his intelligence with Senator John McCain via an emissary and Fusion GPS helped him do that. The goal, according to Fritsch and Simpson, "was to alert the United States national security community to an attack on our country by a hostile foreign power." They deny leaking the information to Buzzfeed however.
"We’re extremely proud of our work to highlight Mr. Trump’s Russia ties," Fritsch and Steele state in their conclusion. "To have done so is our right under the First Amendment."
It is time to stop chasing rabbits. The public still has much to learn about a man with the most troubling business past of any United States president. Congress should release transcripts of our firm’s testimony, so that the American people can learn the truth about our work and most important, what happened to our democracy."