By Jon Dougherty
The new House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), had a ‘chance meeting’ with Glenn Simpson at a swanky Aspen resort last summer when the Fusion GPS founder was a key witness regarding the panel’s “Russian collusion” investigation, The Hill’s John Solomon reported late Thursday.
Schiff, then the ranking member of the panel under then-Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), was photographed at the event, though both he and Simpson, through their respective spokespersons, told Solomon that the meeting was short and non-specific.
However, Simpson was — and remains — an important figure in Congress’ investigation of allegations by Democrats and the Obama-run Deep State that then-GOP nominee Donald Trump and his campaign engaged in criminal “collusion” with Russia to unduly influence the outcome of the 2016 election, in which Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.
Simpson’s firm was hired to produce the now-infamous “Russia dossier” which was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through a “cutout” law firm, Perkins Coie, in the lead-up to the 2016 election cycle.
Fusion GPS hired former British spy Christopher Steele to produce the dossier, which contained highly salacious allegations and none of which has been corroborated despite two years’ worth of investigations by the House Intelligence Committee and its Senate counterpart.
As for Simpson, Solomon noted, “by the time of the meeting, the House Intelligence Committee had already received evidence from a senior Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr, that called into question Simpsonâ€™s testimony to lawmakers.”
He further noted:
Specifically, Simpson claimed he had not begun meeting with Ohr until after Thanksgiving 2016, well after the FBI had begun investigating Trump-Russia collusion and after the presidential election in which Simpson’s client, Clinton, lost to Trump.
But Ohr provided compelling evidence, including calendar notations, testimony and handwritten notes, showing that Simpson met with him in August 2016, well before the election and during a time when Steele was helping the FBI start an investigationÂ intoÂ Trump.
Solomon noted further that both men downplayed the meeting when confronted with the photographic evidence.
â€œIn the summer of 2018, Mr. Simpson attended a media-sponsored social event where he exchanged small talk with Rep. Schiff and many other people who were in attendance,â€ Fusion GPS said in a statement. â€œThe conversation between the two was brief and did not cover anything substantive. There has been no subsequent contact between Mr. Simpson and Rep. Schiff.â€
â€œThe chairman did not have any pre-planned meeting with Glenn Simpson, and any conversation with him at the Aspen conference would have been brief and social in nature,â€ Schiff spokesman Patrick Boland told Solomon, who observed: “Translation: This was just a Forrest Gump-like moment in which the Democratsâ€™ chief defender of the dossier and the man whose firm produced it met serendipitously.”
While there is no legal reason preventing Schiff and Simpson from meeting — members of Congress are given wide latitude when it comes to the performance of their duties — Schiff insisted early on that his Republican counterpart, Nunes, be held accountable for meetings he had at the Trump White House with the president’s national security council without informing the committee. Schiff’s attacks led Nunes to temporarily recuse himself from the Intelligence Committee’s probe and he was referred to the House Ethics Committee, which cleared him in December 2017.
As for Ohr, we reported that same month that the Justice Department demoted him — he was the DoJ’s No. 4 official — over his contacts with Simpson and Fusion GPS, where his wife, Nellie, worked on helping to produce the dossier:
At first, senior Justice Department officials could not provide a reason for Ohrâ€™s demotion.
However,Â FoxÂ NewsÂ discovered that evidence gathered by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., points to a meeting during the 2016 campaign between Ohr and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the â€œdossier.â€
…House investigators have also determined that Ohr met with Glenn Simpson, founder of the firm Fusion GPS, shortly after the Nov. 8, 2016 election.Â
Though Schiff objected to Nunes’ meetings at the White House, Solomon notes that both Republican and Democratic staffers and lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee cannot recall the then-ranking member disclosing his contact with Simpson at the time.
“Itâ€™s interesting that Simpson is at the heart of the dossier and the dossier played a mighty role in not only going after Carter Page but in much of Adamâ€™s andÂ Eric Swalwellâ€™s [D-Calif.] quest to find collusion, that [Schiff] would in fact in that exact same conversation, or time frame, be in conversation or appear to be in conversation with the guy whoâ€™s principally responsible for the dossier,”Â Rep.Â Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who took over the Russia probe after Nunes recused himself, told Solomon, who added that the GOP members of the panel are likely to fire off some new questions for Schiff to answer.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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