by WorldTribune Staff, February 8, 2019
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who this week announced the committee will launch a wide-ranging investigation into President Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign, met with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson in July 2018, a report said.
In a scene that is being compared to the infamous Bill Clinton-Loretta Lynch tarmac meeting during the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Schiff was photographed with Simpson at the 2018 Aspen Security Forum, The Hill’s John Solomon reported on Feb. 7.
At the time of the encounter with Schiff, Simpson “was an important witness in the House Intelligence Committee probe who had given sworn testimony about alleged, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign,” Solomon wrote.
“When confronted with the Aspen conference photos of Schiff, in sport coat and open-neck dress shirt, and Simpson, wearing casual attire, representatives for both men tried to minimize their discussion, insisting nothing substantive about the Russia case was discussed,” Solomon wrote.
Fusion GPS said in a statement to Solomon: “In 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. The conversation between the two was brief and did not cover anything substantive. There has been no subsequent contact between Mr. Simpson and Rep. Schiff.”
Solomon said that Schiff’s response “was even more vague.” A spokesman for the California Democrat said that “The 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.”
Simpson’s Fusion GPS, with funding from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, paid Christopher Steele for the anti-Trump dossier which became the key evidence for the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.
By the time of the Schiff-Simpson meeting, the House Intelligence Committee “had already received evidence from a senior Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr, that called into question Simpson’s testimony to lawmakers,” Solomon wrote.
Solomon noted that “There is nothing illegal or technically improper about a congressman meeting, intentionally or unintentionally, with a witness in an investigation. At least not under the law or the House Intelligence Committee’s rules.
“But Schiff created a far higher standard two years ago when he demanded that his Republican counterpart on the committee, then-Chairman Devin Nunes (California Republican), be investigated for having meetings with national security council officials at the Trump White House without telling the committee. Schiff’s attacks led Nunes to temporarily recuse himself from the Russia probe.”
Schiff “assailed Nunes’s contacts with a source outside the committee confines as ‘a dead-of-night excursion’ and said it called into question the impartiality of the inquiry because the committee wasn’t informed,” Solomon wrote.
“I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman,” Schiff said at the time.
Some lawmakers said there is no evidence that Schiff disclosed his contact with Simpson to House Intelligence Committee members.
“I don’t know if they’re under any obligation to disclose it but, certainly if we were conspiracy theorists the way that my Democrat colleagues appear to be, we could weave an awful tale into that and weave all kinds of nonsense about it,” Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican who took over the Russia probe when Nunes recused himself, told Hill TV.
“Had the tables been turned and I had been seen at a circumstance like that, my guess is [Schiff] would have demanded I had a full conversation as to what I did,” he added.
Conaway touched on another observation, Solomon wrote.
Simpson “has become a Forrest Gump-like character who keeps showing up in so many different places in the Russia scandal: He’s the owner of the company that was paid by Clinton for the Steele dossier, the guy who hired Steele to create the dossier, the one who met with Ohr at the Justice Department, who pitched reporters writing Trump dirt at the end of the campaign and who met with the Russian woman and an American lobbyist at the heart of the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
“And then, he shows up with Schiff in Aspen.”
Conaway said that “It’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 Adam’s and [California Democrat] Eric Swalwell’s 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 who’s principally responsible for the dossier.”
Schiff on Feb. 6 announced a new, wide-ranging probe into Trump’s foreign business dealings and alleged Russian election meddling.
Schiff’s move, which came one day after the president had slammed “the politics of revenge” and “partisan investigations” in his State of the Union address, was condemned by Trump.
“He’s just a political hack who’s trying to build a name for himself,” Trump said. “It’s just presidential harassment and it’s unfortunate, and it really does hurt our country.”
The then-GOP-led House Intelligence Committee concluded last March that there was “no evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the 2016 election.
Schiff’s move also came after Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said he expected special counsel Robert Mueller’s final Russia report “within a month.”