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Fusion GPS founder: Trump campaign source backed up claims in dossier

The Hill logo The Hill 1/9/2018 Jonathan Easley and Katie Bo Williams
a group of people around each other © Provided by The Hill A founder of the opposition research firm that compiled the controversial dossier on President Trump told Senate investigators in August that the FBI had "other intelligence" backing up claims in the dossier and that law enforcement officials had already been investigating the president's team before the dossier was completed.

In more than 300 pages of testimony released unilaterally on Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson told investigators that the former spy who compiled the dossier told him that the FBI had an informant in the Trump campaign.

But a source close to Fusion GPS told The Hill on Tuesday that Simpson misspoke, mischaracterizing a tip that an Australian diplomat gave the bureau related to Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos.

"Essentially what [former MI6 agent Christopher Steele] told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that - that they - my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point - that they believed Chris's information 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.

According to Simpson, Steele met with a bureau agent in Rome in the fall of 2016, feeling obligated to turn over the results of his research - the second such meeting he had with the FBI. The first took place in first week of July, Simpson said. The bureau launched its investigation into the Trump campaign in late July, according to former FBI Director James Comey.

Simpson would not reveal the source, saying that the person would potentially face physical harm if word got out.

"People who get in the way of the Russians tend to get hurt," Simpson said.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that the FBI's attention was initially drawn to the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia not by the dossier, but by a representative of Australia's government who had met with then-Trump campaign staffer Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos, who has since pleaded guilty to charges of making false statements to the FBI, told the diplomat that Russia had political dirt on Trump's campaign rival, Hillary Clinton.

The Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed Simpson last August as part of its investigation into Russia's election interference. As Capitol Hill Republicans have hammered on the FBI's alleged use of Steele's research in its investigation as evidence of bias, Democrats have pushed for the release of the transcript. Ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) published the transcript Tuesday without consulting chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who called the decision "confounding."

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