We're back on the record. It's 12:06 p.m.
All right. Mr. Simpson, I'm going to return to the topic of Prevezon. Let me know if I'm accurately summarizing the scope of work you're describing. I think you've described three main areas so far. First is that you were investigating Prevezon's side of the story to see if it was credible; the second is you were investigating Bill Browder's ties to the U.S. and related subpoena issues; and the third is that you were investigating Bill Browder's Russian businesses. Is that correct?
I think he said a lot more than that, but go ahead.
I listed the main topics. That's where we left off.
I don't think that's the main topics either, but go ahead.
Is that a yes-or-no question? I think those are three things I covered, but I covered a lot of stuff.
With the information that you gathered in those and related efforts, what did you do with the information once you obtained it?
Well, the first thing you do is you give it to the lawyers and, you know, when appropriate you give it to reporters, you know, put it in court filings.
So is it correct, then, people associated with Fusion did communicate with journalists about the Prevezon case and the information you found out about Mr. Browder?
And did Fusion engage in these communications with the media on its own accord or were you directed or authorized to do so?
In litigation support, you know, basically the cases that we work on frequently get some media attention. So it's always part of a litigation engagement that if you're the guy that does the research, you're going to end up talking to reporters because they're going to ask questions about, you know, information from the case.
Just make sure you answer his question. Was it done?
That's part of what the lawyers hire you to do and that's what they instruct you to do. The way it generally happens is the lawyer gets a call from a reporter who wants to write a story about the case and he answers the questions or gives them a quote and then he instructs me to give him background information.
So then was it typically done on a case-by-case basis or did you have blanket authorization regardless of specific interactions with the attorneys?
These things evolved over time. So in the beginning of the case when you're new to a subject you're generally fielding—you generally get requests from the lawyers to answer a specific question that a reporter has. So the reporter will call and they'll want to know whatever, where the house was in Colorado, and he'll say somewhere in Aspen, ask Glenn. Then he'll send him to me or he'll send me to them. Later on when you get where you've gathered a mass of information that covers a whole wide range of topics and, you know, if there's more coverage, you know, they will direct you to answer questions for the reporters covering the case. They won't tell you on an individual basis talk to so-and-so. It's a little of both.
Was Fusion then paid for these communications with the media?
We were compensated for our litigation support and as part of that we were directed to talk to the media. So in the fundamental sense yes, we were. Specifically paid for individual conversations, I don't think so.
Do you bill hourly?
It depends on the case.
On this case?
I think we did on this case.
So did you bill for conversations with the press on this case?
I'm sorry to say I don't know. I probably did not. Generally speaking, what I would bill for would be to attend events where there would be press. So if I was at a court hearing—most of the press was around court hearings. So I would go to a court hearing with the lawyers and there would be reporters there. So part of what I was billing for was answering their questions.
And with which news organizations did Fusion communicate in relation to the Prevezon case?
I will try to remember them. It was the major news organizations that were covering the litigation. Usually it was their courthouse or legal reporters. So it was Bloomberg, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, probably Reuters, Legal 360. I'm sure there were a handful of others.
Was the Financial Times possibly one of them?
They approached us with—they had been getting information from Bill Browder. He had alleged to them that we were part of a big campaign on Capitol Hill and that we were engaged in lobbying and that it was all designed to affect legislation or smear him or Sergei Magnitsky. So eventually we did end up dealing with that, but I don't remember whether we dealt with them prior to that. I don't think they covered the case prior to that.
What about NBC?
We would have—I'm sorry. Yes.
And the New Republic?
I think so.
And do you recall what information you provided to each or is that too into the weeds?
I don't know if it's in the weeds, but generally speaking, the work—we provided information about the work that I had done about William Browder's credibility. The whole case ended up—when I said when he declined to appear voluntarily as I am here and explain things, you know, it ended up being an issue of why he didn't want to talk. So a lot of it was about his credibility, about his account of his activities in Russia, about his history of tax avoidance, all these things.
Did Fusion provide the media information alleging that Browder had illicitly engineered the purchase of 133 million shares of Gazprom?
I don't know for sure, but we certainly did research on that issue.
And you described investigating these series of issues. How did you acquire the information in the course of this investigate?
We used the methods that I've described here today. We pulled court records, we pulled corporate records, we, you know, pulled real estate records, SEC securities filings, that sort of thing.
And was any of the information you provided to the media information that wasn't the result of your own research but that had been passed along to you by Baker Hostetler or Prevezon?
I think the answer to that is yes, but I'm struggling to think of a specific example.
I was saying earlier, the lawyers did a lot of the research too. So there was obviously a sharing of research where, you know, we were feeding research to them and they were housing a central repository of research and then the research would become memoranda and given in court filings. In a lot of these cases we were giving people court filings. So the information was mixed together from various sources.
Did Fusion independently verify the information provided by Baker Hostetler or Prevezon or in this circumstance was it assumed to be reliable given your work with them?
We certainly did not independently verify everything that the lawyers generated in the case. That would have been an enormous task and it would have made no sense.
I just want to stress that I've worked with Baker Hostetler for—you know, since 2009, so I guess going on over eight years, and they're very good lawyers and very conservative. So if they provided me with information that they had gathered, I would have been confident—I was confident in the quality of their work.
And did Prevezon or Baker Hostetler ever direct Fusion to relay to the media information that they had provided to Fusion?
I'm sorry. Can you say that again.
Did Baker Hostetler or Prevezon direct Fusion to relay to the media information that they had provided to you?
I don't specifically recall an example of that, but I think as a general sort of operating principle we were working at their direction and they were providing us with, you know, case information. So I think so, but I just don't have an idea.
And did anyone at Fusion or perhaps Mr. Baumgartner review Russian documents related to the Prevezon matter?
Do any Fusion employees or associates speak Russian?
No. I'll qualify that. Depends on how you define associate. Edward isn't an employee of the company, but he speaks Russian. He's a subcontractor.
Aside from Mr. Baumgartner, do you have any other support from Russian-speaking individuals in reviewing the Russian documents?
Not in my company, at least not that I can recall. There was other Russian speakers I think that were engaged by Baker Hostetler in various situations, like translators, Russian bilingual lawyers, that sort of thing.
Do you remember the names of any of those people?
Anatoli, whose last name I can't really pronounce, was a New York-based English-Russian court translator. He was mostly a courtroom translator. So I don't know whether he—I really don't know the extent of their other involvement with other people in these things.
Can I just back up before we get too far afield of this. I want to follow up on an answer that you gave earlier. You described your interactions with the press as primarily being directed to answer questions, in other words, the contact as being initiated by the press. That's my understanding of how you described it.
I don't think that's a complete summary of what he said.
Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. My question is were there instances where you were initiating contact with the press or pitching stories to the press?
Sure. I mean, the range of things that you would do, you know, again, it would evolve. In the beginning you were going to a lot of hearings and a lot of legal reporters are showing up and you're mostly answering their questions. Depending on the setting, you know, you might get a question for the lawyers like is anyone from Reuters going to be there and you would reach out to Reuters and say are you guys sending someone to this hearing. So there was definitely some reach out like that. Then we would also talk to reporters, you know, generally covering issues of corruption or law or Russia or whatever and say, you know, we're involved in a really weird court case, you might be interested in this.
So is it fair to say that part of your job, then, was to locate reporters who would write about these matters from a point of view that was advantageous to your client?
Yes, but I think we should note here that William Browder is an especially aggressive media self-promoter and promoter of his story. So for much of this case it was reactive and we were constantly besieged with reporters pursuing negative stories about Prevezon, the events of the Prevezon case that had been given to them by William Browder. So, you know, unhappily, I would say, you know, a lot of what we were doing was simply responding to his wild allegations, unsupported wild allegations.
There were certainly moments, particularly concerning his unwillingness to appear for a deposition, where we said to some reporters, hey, guy, you know, he's just dodged his third subpoena, you might want to write about this, it's pretty funny. In fact, you know, the third one he ran down a street in Manhattan in the middle of a blizzard to get away from our process servers, but that one we actually had them film it.
So, you know, did we want to get that covered, did we think it was important that people know that this guy was unwilling to appear in court in public under oath to talk about the story that he'd been selling for years about his activities in Russia? Yeah, we wanted people to know that.
Other than the media and Baker Hostetler, did Fusion provide any information regarding the Prevezon matter to any other third parties?
I don't have a specific recollection of doing so. If there's a specific incident that you'd like to ask about I'd be happy to try and answer that. I don't remember.
We'll get into that a little bit more.
Also to go back to the translator you mentioned, you said Anatoli and that you didn't know how to pronounce—
Samochornov I think is his—
I'm massacring it. Again, it's something that's in the public record.
Do you know Rinat Akhmetshin?
Yes, I do.
Sure. R-I-N-A-T, A-K-H-M-E-T-S-H-I-N.
When did you first meet Mr. Akhmetshin?
When I was a reporter at the Wall Street Journal.
And as far as you know, what is his business?
Some kind of PR consulting lobbyist. I think he's a registered lobbyist.
Have you ever worked with Mr. Akhmetshin?
I've been—in the Prevezon case I interacted with him. I think—again, this has unhelpfully been distorted by William Browder into some sort of economic relationship or conspiracy or something. I don't have any economic relations with him. You know, I've bumped into him over the years around town. So, you know, the only thing that I specifically recall having done with him was interacting for a brief period on the Prevezon case.
You don't recall working with him for any other clients or cases?
Let's be clear, I'm sure we did not do business together, but I do work on areas of the world where he's from, Central Asia, former Soviet Union, and he is, as I'm sure you've seen, a guy around town who knows lots of people who cover this stuff. I met him in connection with some stories I was doing on Kazakhstan at the Wall Street Journal. That's the kind of context I've bumped into him over the years. He's told me various things and I think I even met one of his clients at one point, but it wasn't a business thing. I don't think I was doing any work. I was just networking.
You said he told you various things. Do you mean he would pass along information to you?
The information that I remember was about his Kyrgyzstan stuff. There was a congressional investigation into Kyrgyzstan that he claimed credit for having started and he told me about it for some reason, but it wasn't because we were doing business together. It was coffee or something.
You said he claimed credit for having started the congressional investigation?
That's my recollection, but this was some years ago.
And you said you met one of his clients. Do you remember which client?
A former Kazakh politician whose name escapes me.
Do you remember when you met that client?
Years ago in London.
Has Mr. Akhmetshin ever been paid by Fusion GPS?
Not to my knowledge.
Has he ever provided information to Fusion GPS for use in your work?
I don't have a specific recollection of him having done so. I would hesitate to say so categorically because I've been running this business now for a number of years and I would have interacted with him at various times and ways that I probably don't remember, but not that I specifically recall.
Has Mr. Akhmetshin ever paid Fusion GPS for work?
Not to my knowledge.
You mentioned interacting with him in the Prevezon matter. What did you understand his role to be in the Prevezon work?
I did not have a clear understanding of his role initially. He started attending meetings sometime in 2016, just a handful of things, and it's—you know what? I don't recall anyone ever saying to me you're not doing X, Y, or Z. They may have. I just don't recall. The lane that I was in was the court case and this fight over whether Browder would have to testify, which morphed then into this fight over whether—you know, his allegations that John Moscow had a conflict of interest. So I was very focused on that. These other issues came up two plus years into the case and he was clearly dealing with them, but I don't recall anyone sort of giving me a specific explanation, you know, of what he was doing.
What other issues?
The issues of the—what do you call it, HRAGI, the foundation and the congressional stuff.
You mentioned he started showing up at meetings in 2016. Who else attended these meetings?
I don't specifically remember. I mean, Ed Lieberman I think was at a meeting. Again, I don't think it was—it wasn't a lot of meetings, just one or two, but it was at Baker Hostetler.
Can you explain briefly who Ed Lieberman is.
Ed Lieberman is a lawyer in Washington who has a specialty in international tax who worked for Baker Hostetler on some of the analysis of the alleged tax evasion by Hermitage Capital and William Browder. And then subsequently also he knows Rinat from I guess, I don't know, college or something and subsequently the two of them were working on the—I don't know what to call it, the congressional stuff.
I believe they registered to lobby Congress.
Did Fusion provide any of its research to Mr. Akhmetshin whether directly or through an intermediary such as Baker Hostetler?
Yes. We were directed to do so by Baker Hostetler.
And do you know or have reason to believe whether Mr. Akhmetshin used that information when he spoke with people on the Hill?
I have reason to believe that. I don't have specific knowledge of his discussions with people on the Hill. I don't remember. He may have told me what he did.
As I say, it was not the focus of my work.
Has Mr. Akhmetshin ever said anything to you indicating or implying that he had worked with the Russian government?
Well, I knew he had been a soldier, I knew he had been in the Soviet military, and I also knew that he went to Moscow a fair bit because he said on several occasions I'm in Moscow or I'm going to Moscow. He may have—I don't recall whether he mentioned having worked with the Russian government.
Has he ever said anything to you indicating or implying that he had worked for Russian intelligence more specifically?
Well, as I said, I'm sure that he had mentioned to me maybe back in, you know, the time when I was at the Wall Street Journal that he was in the Soviet military and he had some kind of low-level intelligence position, but I don't remember anything beyond that. He certainly didn't say anything in recent years about having any current connections with Russian intelligence.
Has he ever said anything to you indicating or implying that he has contacts or connections with Russian government officials?
Not that I specifically recall.
Do you have reason to believe that he has ties to the Russian government?
I have reason to wonder whether he has ties to the Russian government, but, you know, in the course of my work for Baker Hostetler the question of whether he had some connection to the Russian government wasn't germane really. It just didn't come up. Obviously with the news of this meeting at Trump Tower and the allegations in the media that there's some relationship there I share everyone's interest in the answer to that question.
Do you know Natalia Veselnitskaya?
When did you first interact with Ms. Veselnitskaya?
I believe it was sometime in 2014.
Has Fusion ever worked with Ms. Veselnitskaya?
Didn't I just answer that? Yes. I mean, she was the lawyer, the Russian lawyer who retained Baker Hostetler who retained us. So when you say "worked with," I don't know that as a technical meaning, but we interacted with her as part of the Prevezon litigation.
Has Fusion ever been paid by her?
Well, she arranged—as the lawyer for Prevezon she would have arranged for Prevezon to pay Baker Hostetler which paid us. So if that's what your question is, then the answer is yes, but I mean, I don't think the money came from her. It came from Prevezon.
Were there any direct payments that didn't go through Baker Hostetler?
So what did you understand her role to be in the litigation? You said she was the attorney for Prevezon. Was she managing the case for Prevezon?
I was not introduced to her originally. The original way that she was—it came up in my conversations with Mark Cymrot and other Baker lawyers was as the person who had hired them who had the information about the extortion case against Demetri Baranovsky. It was represented to me by Mark Cymrot that she handled that matter and was familiar with the prosecution of Demetri Baranovsky and very well versed in the events of the extortion. So, you know, that's how I learned of her and I think that's probably—our first interactions were probably about that subject.
Did she provide Fusion with the information about that extortion case?
Well, I certainly discussed it with her at some point, but it was all in Russian. You know, the bulk of the Russian-English translating just for, you know, chain of evidence reasons went from her to Baker Hostetler. They would have materials analyzed and translated and then they would—I don't read a word of Russian. So I would get the certified translations of stuff from Baker.
And beyond your interactions with her about the extortion issue, what type of interaction did you have with her in the course of the Prevezon work?
In the early period it was I believe largely about this extortion case. Later on when we would appear in court it would—you know, she would come to some of the Court hearings and the issue of Browder's efforts to avoid having to testify were front and center, sort of the main issue for quite a while. So I don't remember specific conversations with her about that, but that's what we would have discussed.
Have you met in person with her on other occasions besides court hearings?
I attended a couple client dinners and I think that's about it.
Do you recall when and where those would have been?
I recall some of the when and the where. There were a couple of dinners in New York and a couple of dinners in D.C. I don't remember when they started. I think probably 2015. And there was some in 2016 in both cities.
Were any in June 2016?
Were those in New York or in D.C.?
I believe that one was in New York and one was in D.C.
Do you recall the specific date of either?
I didn't until we tried to piece these things together, but June 8th I think was the dinner in New York and I think the 10th was the dinner in D.C., something like that.
And what were the purposes of these dinners?
Well, the first one was just an obligatory client dinner which, you know, when you work on a legal case you get invited to dinner with the clients. The one in D.C. was more of a social thing. It wasn't—she was at it, but it wasn't really about the case. It was just a bunch of Mark Cymrot's friends. You know, the editor of the Washington Post book section was there and his wife who's a well-known author were also there. I can't remember who else was there. But anyway, she sat at the other end of the table from me and, you know, as I said, she doesn't really speak English and I don't speak Russian. So not a lot of chit-chat.
Was it your understanding that the research you provided to Baker Hostetler would then be passed on to Ms. Veselnitskaya?
To the extent that it was useful and interesting to her I'm sure they did, yes.
Has she ever said anything to you, presumably via a translator, indicating or implying she had worked with the Russian government?
No, but Mark Cymrot told me when he told me of her existence that she was a former prosecutor.
And has she ever said anything to you more specifically indicating or implying that she had worked for Russian intelligence?
Do you have any reasons to believe that Ms. Veselnitskaya has ties to the Russian government?
I know what I've read in the newspaper.
Beyond that my impression of her was of someone who, you know, was a very smart and ambitious lawyer, but not like a big political player in the Kremlin. Of course given to wonder given all the recent events and disclosures that I was unaware of whether my assessment of her was right or wrong.
we sit here today, the jury's kind of out. I honestly can tell you all I knew is she didn't seem to be a heavy hitter in the Kremlin world.
This might be a little repetitive, but when did you first meet Ed Lieberman?
I don't remember specifically, but it was years ago.
I believe you described his business. Have you ever worked with Mr. Lieberman?
I don't think so.
Or Fusion more broadly?
Not that I can recall.
Have you ever paid him or been paid by him?
And what exactly did you understand his role to be in the Prevezon issue?
Well, the initial issue that we worked on together was the issues about alleged tax evasion by Hermitage Capital in Russia and William Browder's decision to surrender his citizenship shortly before the tax rules on surrendering your citizenship changed, which tended to make us suspect that it was motivated by tax considerations.
that time we didn't know about the offshore companies in BVI.
And what type of interactions did you have with Mr. Lieberman in the course of the Prevezon work?
Collegial, I guess professional I would say. Ed's, you know, got a background in tax. So we talked about tax stuff. Later on, much later on after a couple years had gone by, you know, he and Rinat embarked on this other project, but I don't have a specific recollection of whether I dealt with him directly on any of that.
Did Fusion provide its research to Mr. Lieberman either directly or through an intermediary such as Baker Hostetler?
Not that I recall, but if the lawyers asked me to send them something, I would send them something.
Do you have any reason to believe that Mr. Lieberman has ties to the Russian government?
Do you know Mr. Robert Arakelian, A-R-A-K-E-L-I-A-N?
There was a guy at a lunch or dinner or something named Robert and he was introduced to me as Robert. Again, when you're going to like these client meals or things like that, you know, we didn't get into a lot of details of who he was. I just remember he was introduced as a friend Denis Katsyv, K-A-T-S-Y-V. That's my recollection. It may be that he's a friend of Rinat's. I don't really know.
As far as you know, what is Mr.—what is Robert's business?
I don't know.
So presumably, then, has Fusion ever worked with him?
Not to my knowledge.
What did you understand Mr. Arakelian's role to be in the Prevezon work?
I didn't know he had a role. If someone told me I've forgotten, but, again, I was pretty narrowly focused on a few things and he wasn't involved in those things.
Were you aware that he was a registered lobbyist for HRAGI?
Other than meeting him at that dinner, did you have any other interactions with him in the course of the Prevezon work?
Not that I can recall.
Did Fusion provide any research to him directly or through an intermediary such as Baker Hostetler?
I don't know. I mean, if Baker Hostetler gave him information from my research or my company's research, they didn't tell me.
Do you have any reason to believe he has ties to the Russian government?
But you said he is friends with the Katsyvs?
I shouldn't speculate. I recall he was introduced to me as a friend of someone and I don't remember whether it was Rinat or Denis Katsyv, but it was one or the other.
Do you know Howard Schweitzer?
I don't, not that I can recall.
So you've never done any business with him; is that correct?
I don't think so.
Do you know if he had any role in the Prevezon work?
I've read that his firm was involved in the lobbying, but it's just something I read. I don't believe I had any personal interactions.
Do you know who Denis Katsyv is?
He's the owner of Prevezon.
Did you have any interactions with him?
Again, I sat in a few meetings, a couple of client meals, but it was limited by his limited English and my limited Russian.
In your interactions with Ms. Veselnitskaya did she claim to be acting as the attorney for Prevezon Holdings and the Katsyv family or just for Prevezon Holdings?
She was introduced to me as the lawyer for Prevezon. I never—
When you say "the Katsyv family," Denis Katsyv is the only person named in the lawsuit. I'm just wondering what you mean by that.
Denis or Pyotr.
As I said, she was introduced to me as the lawyer for Prevezon. So—and I think the lawyer for Denis. So beyond that I don't know.
Do you know who Pyotr Katsyv is?
I do now. I mean, I knew a little bit about him at the time, but now that it's become an issue, at least in the mind of William Browder, obviously I know who he is.
Did you have any interactions with him?
Do you know Chris Cooper?
How long have you known Mr. Cooper?
Probably ten years, maybe longer.
As far as you know, what is his business?
Is he associated with the Potomac Square Group?
I believe he is the Potomac Square Group.
Has Fusion ever worked with Mr. Cooper or the Potomac Square Group?
Have you paid him or been paid by him?
I believe we've paid him. I don't know if he's paid us.
What did you understand his role to be in the Prevezon work?
He worked on his movie doing—essentially as I understand it and recall it, he was asked to help find a place where they could show this movie. William Browder likes to use the press, but he doesn't like anyone talking freely about him or raising questions about the story of his activities in Russia. So when this movie came together they were going to screen it in Europe and he hired the meanest libel firm in London which has previously sued me on behalf of Saudi billionaires and—unsuccessfully I might add, and he threatened to file libel cases against the people who were daring to offer to host a showing of this film.
So, as you know, they don't have the First Amendment in Europe. So he was able to successfully suppress the showings of this film which questioned his credibility and whether—the truth of his story and his activities in Russia. So Chris came up with the idea of showing it at the Newseum which is dedicated to the First Amendment and where they don't have much time for libel lawyers and people trying to suppress free speech
And was the showing arranged for Prevezon, for HRAGI? Who was arranging this?
I don't know.
Did Fusion have any role in that showing?
We supplied some names of people. They wanted to round up people who would be interested in coming, journalists, friends, people interested in Russia, and we supplied names for them.
Did Fusion contact any journalists to inform them about the film or the showing or to encourage them to write about it?
I believe that I mentioned it to some journalists in terms of showing up. I don't believe I—I just don't remember whether I tried to get anyone to write anything about it, but if I did I would have had good reason to because it was all about William Browder's credibility which was the subject that we were hotly litigating in New York and I had been on this—you know, we had been on this, you know, multi-year effort to get him to answer questions about his activities in Russia. So it was the central issue in the Prevezon case.
So you mentioned Mr. Cooper was involved in establishing this screening. Do you know how he came to be hired by Prevezon or HRAGI or whoever?
I know a little. As I was saying earlier, I've known Chris from Wall Street Journal days and I refer business to him. I know this doesn't fit with the Browder theory of the case, but I don't do a lot of public relations work and I refer, you know, public relations jobs to other people, friends.
So when the trial was approaching in the Prevezon case I kept telling the lawyers you guys have to hire a PR guy, I'm not going to do this, it's just too much work. So we were trying to find PR people and he was one of the people that I recommended as a trial PR guy. From there I don't have a clear sense of how he ended up working on the movie, but it wouldn't be surprising if they had his name from the previous referral.
Do you know who came up with the idea of creating HRAGI?
I would be guessing. I just don't remember. Someone may have told me. I don't remember.
What kind of interaction did Fusion have directly or indirectly with HRAGI?
I remember hearing about it. I remember Rinat talking about it and maybe others. We were very peripheral to this stuff and I don't remember if I had any specific interactions with it. I don't know if they had an office, I don't know if they had a bank account. I just don't know. I do know they registered to lobby.
Do you know Lanny Wiles, L-A-N-N-Y, W-I-L-E-S?
I know him a little bit. I met him originally when I was a journalist. He was introduced to me as a well-connected Republican consultant type and I bumped into him once or twice over the years.
Has Fusion ever worked with him?
I don't think so, no.
What did you understand his role to be in the Prevezon-HRAGI work?
Again, my understanding of people's roles on—he was involved in the lobbying. He's a lobbyist. He was involved in the lobbying. Beyond that I really couldn't say.
Did you have any involvement with him in the course of your work on the Prevezon?
I think we had lunch once.
Do you have any reason to believe that Mr. Wiles has ties to the Russian government?
So as you mentioned, in 2016 people associated with HRAGI met and attempted to meet with people in a number of congressional offices. Were you aware of any of these meetings?
The meeting that I was aware of that I remember hearing about was a meeting that actually didn't happen which was some meeting that Mark Cymrot was supposed to have. It's possible that he was going to meet some Congressman. It's possible that I was told about other meetings by some of these people that we're discussing, but I don't specifically remember hearing about other meetings. I was generally aware that there was stuff going on on the Hill.
If I could refer back to Exhibit 2, the partial privilege log. The first page of that document lists a 5/13/16 e-mail from Rinat Akhmetshin to Mark Cymrot with the subject/ description "Appointment with Cong. Hill." Do you believe that to be a reference Congressman French Hill?
I don't know. I believe it was a Congressman named Hill. I don't know if it was a Congressman named French Hill.
And do you recall any other mentions of meetings with any particular congressional offices or committees?
I'm sure—I'm sorry. I believe I recall Rinat telling me that he was talking to Paul Behrends, B-E-H-R-E-N-D-S. It was either Rinat or Mark Cymrot or maybe both about some of these issues, but, again, I don't have a great recollection for the specifics.
Did Fusion have any role in these meetings?
I mean, I think we were asked for information, and to the extent that the lawyers wanted me to give somebody information I would hand it over to them. It's their information.
To the best of your knowledge, was that information referenced in the meetings with congressional staff members?
I don't know.
You mentioned you had dinner with Ms. Veselnitskaya on June 8th and 10th of 2016. Were you generally aware of her trip to the United States in June?
I was. She had trouble getting a visa and the lawyers—there was some drama over whether she could get a visa. This would have been a recurring issue in the case. You know, our lawyers believed that the Justice Department was interfering with her visas because they wanted to inhibit her from collaborating with us on the case, but I don't have any independent knowledge of her visa issues. I just remember that was an issue.
I remember that at the last minute she got a visa to come to this Appellate Court hearing on June 9th in New York, and that was the way that she persuaded them to give her a visa was that she needed to attend a hearing which was on an appeal of a District Court ruling related to the disqualification motion that had been filed by William Browder against Baker Hostetler after he was ordered to give testimony.
So that's the history of that court hearing, which was after the Court said he couldn't get out of the subpoena and he had to give testimony, he then triggered a new delay in his testimony by filing a disqualification motion.
And that hearing was on June 8th; is that correct?
I believe it was June 9th.
Did you have any other information about Ms. Veselnitskaya's itinerary or intended activities on this trip?
No. I mean, I can tell you what I knew. I knew she was coming in I guess on the 8th. I don't have a clear recollection of the dinner, but I know—I believe we had a dinner. The problem is I had more than one. So I don't have a clear recollection of it.
Anyway, I saw her the next day in court at this hearing and I'm sure we exchanged greetings, but, as I say, she speaks Russian and I speak English. I think she was with Anatoli and she left afterwards. I know she didn't tell me any other plans she had.
So you had dinner the 8th, saw her in court on the 9th; is that correct?
And dinner again on the 10th?
Did you see her any other time?
Not that I recall.
Did Fusion play any role assisting Ms. Veselnitskaya during that trip?
Not that I recall.
It has widely been reported Ms. Veselnitskaya and Mr. Akhmetshin and others met with Donald Trump, Junior, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner on June 9th, 2016. Were you aware of this meeting beforehand?
It didn't come up at the dinner the night before?
When did you first become aware of the meeting?
Around the time it broke in the New York Times. I was stunned.
Is it correct that that means it wasn't discussed at the dinner on the 10th?
No, but, again, you know, the dinner on the 10th was I was at one end of the table talking to a woman about her biography on Simon Bolivar and she was at the other end with Rinat and she doesn't really speak much English. So, you know, fortunately I was not going to do a lot of entertaining.
I should clarify, discussed with you.
Yeah. So if she discussed with somebody else, I wouldn't—
Do you have any knowledge of the purpose of the meeting other than what you read in the media?
No. No. Well, I mean, I read she wanted to give them some information and I wondered whether it was information from the Prevezon case and I've seen speculation to that effect, but I don't have any knowledge.
If we had the specifics of the information, would you be able to clarify whether it had come from Fusion?
I think so. If it's, you know, stuff I worked on I obviously will recognize it, yes.
As far as you know, how was this meeting arranged or do you have any information beyond what's in the public—
Other than recent media reports, do you have any reason to believe that the meeting was an attempt by the Russian government to make contact with the Trump campaign?
I mean, that's kind of an analytical question. I don't have any factual reason to believe that. I don't have possession of any information about this that would allow me to say one way or the other. You know, as a sort of question of counterintelligence and just general investigation of Russian methods and that sort of thing, I think that's a reasonable interpretation.
Have you had any communications about the meeting at any time with Rinat Akhmetshin?
Have you had any communications about the meeting, again, at any time with Ms. Veselnitskaya?
Have you had any communications about the meeting with anyone you worked with on the Prevezon matter?
Probably. I think we all exchanged mutual expressions of surprise. I think I talked to Paul Levine, a lawyer at Baker Hostetler. I'm sure I discussed it with Ed Baumgartner, Mark Cymrot. You know, if anyone knew about it they certainly didn't confess it to me.
Do you know—I'm going to butcher this name—Irakle Kaveladze?
I know who he is.
I'll spell it. I-R-A-K-L-E, last name K-A-V-E-L-A-D-Z-E.
No, I don't know.
Has Fusion ever worked with him?
No, not to my knowledge.
To the best of your knowledge, did he have any role in the Prevezon or Magnitsky work?
My knowledge is primarily of the Prevezon case and, to my knowledge, he was not involved in the Prevezon case in any way.
Do you have any reason to believe beyond public reporting that he has ties to the Russian government?
I've been told by a source that—actually, I was told by a source that there was some reason to believe he had ties to the Russian government, and he directed me to a newspaper article which said that he had connections to a guy on the West Coast named Boris Goldstein who has been linked historically to Soviet Russian intelligence. Beyond that I don't have any—I don't have any information.
And who was the source that told you that?
I'm not going to talk about my source.
I think you've already addressed this a little bit, but do you know Anatoli Samochornov? A-N-A-T-O-L-I, S-A-M-O-C-H-O-R-N-O-V.
I met him in connection with this case. We've never had any kind of social or other relations beyond chatting in courthouses and that sort of thing, sitting in restaurants waiting for a hearing to start.
Has Fusion ever worked with him other than on the Prevezon case?
And to the best of your knowledge, what was his role in the Prevezon case?
As I understood it, he was recruited off the rack basically as a certified—a translator who had courtroom experience in New York who was qualified to do sort of technical-legal type translation work. He, to my knowledge, didn't have a pre-existing relationship with Ms. Veselnitskaya or Prevezon. That's my understanding to this day.
I think that's the end of our hour. It is 1:04. Let's go off the record.