On January 18 the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to publish the transcripts of testimony provided to the committee by Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
Congressman Devin Nunes’ Communications Director, Jack Langer, emailed the transcript to the Valley Voice that afternoon.
Simpson’s firm, Fusion GPS, was the outfit that contracted former British spy Christopher Steele to investigate the Russia side of the Trump/Russia equation. The result was the now famous dossier bandied about in the news media.
Simpson testified for six hours before the committee on November 14, fielding questions and interpreting the dossier.
Having read Simpson’s testimony, it is readily apparent that no commentary is necessary. The following, therefore, is lifted–in order–directly from the 165-page transcript. The elipsis are not for editorial purposes but to streamline the narrative.
According to Simpson:
One of the very first things that I focused on was Donald Trump’s relationship with a convicted racketeer named Felix Sater, and who was alleged to have an organized crime, Russian organized crime background.
Over the course of the first phase…we developed a lot of additional information suggesting that the company that Donald Trump had been associated with and Felix Sater, Bayrock, was engaged in illicit financial business activity and had organized crime connections.
…Mr. Trump had long time associations with Italian organized crime figures. And as we pieced together the early years of his biography, it seemed…during the early part of his career he had connections to a lot of Italian mafia figures, and then gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures.
And so all of that had developed by the spring of 2016 to the point where it was not a speculative piece of research; it was pretty well-established.
…We also increasingly saw Mr. Trump’s business career had evolved over the prior decade into a lot of projects in overseas places, particularly in the former Soviet Union, that were very opaque, and that he had made a number of trips to Russia, but said he’d never done a business deal there. And I found that mysterious.
…Lots of other issues came up during the primaries that raised concerns in my mind about whether there might be connections–Donald Trump might have unexplained connections to Russia or people involved in that part of the world.
…The funding of Bayrock was, I think, much of what we initially were concerned about and focused on. The company seemed to have some sort of funding source from either Russia or the former Soviet Union that was opaque. So we spent a lot of time looking at the people around that and their backgrounds and why Mr. Trump would be in business with them.
…The amazing number of people from the former Soviet Union who had purchased properties from Mr. Trump, including Dmitry Rybolovliev, who purchased a derelict estate at an extreme markup in Florida. And a number of other people bought into his properties.
I guess the general thing I would say is that…the Russians are far more sophisticated in their criminal organized crime activities than the Italians, and they’re a lot more global. They understand finance a lot better. And so they tend to use quite elaborate methods to move money.
…The offshore system has grown in sophistication in the last decade or so, too, so they’ve taken advantage of that.
…If you can think of a way to launder money, the Russians are pretty good at it. But they specifically understand financial markets.
…The thing that comes to mind, of course, is the real estate deals. And…it came to our attention…that there were a lot of real estate deals where you couldn’t really tell who was buying the property.
…I think we saw patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money laundering.
…There was various criminals were buying the properties. So there was a gangster–a Russian gangster living in Trump Tower.
His gangster name is Taiwanchik…These are the kind of things that prompted us to hire Mr. Steele.
And when Mr. Trump went to the Miss Universe pageant in 2013, Taiwanchik was there in the VIP section with Mr. Trump and lots of other Kremlin biggies. So that kind of thing that raised questions with us.
…The patterns of activity that we thought might be suggestive of money laundering were…fast turnover deals and deals where there seemed to have been efforts to disguise the identity of the buyer.
…Some of the things that we…looked at that we thought were very concerning are existing investments in projects…specifically a project in Panama, the one in Toronto. These both got a lot of fraud associated with them, a lot of fraud allegations, a lot of activity that I would say smacks of fraud, and a lot of Russian mafia figures listed as buyers who may or may not have put money into it.
The other one that is–was concerning to us was–is the golf courses in Scotland and Ireland.
…We saw what Eric Trump said about Russian money being available…for the golf course projects, making remarks about having unlimited sums available.
…Because the Irish courses and the Scottish are under UK…corporate law, they…file financial statements. And they don’t, on their face, show Russian involvement, but what they do show is enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources and…it’s hundreds of millions of dollars. And these golf courses are just…sinks. They don’t actually make any money.
…If you’re familiar with Donald Trump’s finances and the litigation over whether he’s really a billionaire…there’s good reason to believe he doesn’t have enough money to do this and that he would have had to have outside financial support for these things.
…Well established in criminology now is that the Russian mafia is essentially under the dominion of the Russian Government and Russian Intelligence Services. And many of the oligarchs are also mafia figures.
…Basically everyone in Russia works for Putin now.
…Essentially, if people who seem to be associated with the Russian mafia are buying Trump properties or arranging for other people to buy Trump properties, it does raise a question about whether they’re doing it on behalf of the government.
…One of the central mysteries of Donald Trump is that…beginning in the mid-2000s he was not a creditworthy businessman.
…So if you’re analyzing…someone who says they’re a billionaire but can’t get a bank loan…there’s this whole issue of where is the credit coming from.
I think that the evidence that has developed over the last year, since President Trump took office, is that there is a well-established pattern of surreptitious contacts that occurred last year that supports the broad allegation of some sort of an undisclosed political or financial relationship between the Trump Organization and people in Russia.
…The first thing that I would do would be to subpoena the brokers and…the other people that were involved in the transactions, and the title companies and the other intermediaries that would have that kind of information.
Then I would go to the banks next. But I actually think some of the intermediary entities in a lot of these transactions are going to be where a lot of the information is.
…It’s these sort of intermediary entities that have no real interest in protecting the information, and all you have to do is ask for it and they just sort of produce it by rote.
…All dollar transactions are generally cleared through New York…So…the main thing you have to do is identify the banks that were used.
…By 2003, 2004, Donald Trump was not able to get bank credit…and if you’re a real estate developer and you can’t get bank loans…you’ve got a problem.
And then ultimately…what we came to realize was that the money was actually coming out of Russia and going into his properties in Florida and New York and Panama and Toronto and these other places.
One of the things we now know about how the condo projects were financed is that…you can get credit if you can show that you’ve sold a certain number of units.
…So the real trick is to get people who say they’ve bought those units, and that’s where the Russians are to be found, in some of those pre-sales, is what they’re called. And that’s how…in Panama they got the credit of…they got…Bear Stearns to issue a bond by telling Bear Stearns that they’d sold a bunch of units…
…There’s supposed to be contracts, down payments, all that sort of thing. So in the case of Panama where the evidence was most vivid…the buyers were fake. I mean, they were real people. They just never paid.
This–it’s in the public records.
President Donald Trump is an active member of the Russian mafia.