We'll go back on the record. It's now 3:09.
Mr. Simpson, do you know Emin Agalarov, E-M-I-N, A-G-A-L-A-R-O-V?
Personally or just does he know about him?
Do you know Aras, A-R-A-S, Agalarov?
Has Fusion ever worked with either of them?
To the best of your knowledge, have either of them had any role in the Prevezon work?
Not to my knowledge.
Do you know Rob Goldstone?
Has Fusion ever worked with him?
Paid him or been paid by him?
To the best of your knowledge, has Mr. Goldstone had any work in the Prevezon or Magnitsky work?
Not to my knowledge.
When you had these dinners in June of 2006 with Ms. Veselnitskaya, who else attended those dinners?
2016. Excuse me.
The Baker lawyers would have attended, did attend.
Was Rinat Akhmetshin there?
I specifically remember he was at the second dinner on I think it was the 10th. I don't specifically remember if he was at the other dinner. I don't have many memory of the other dinner.
Do you recall if he was at the court hearing on the 9th?
I believe he was. I'm not certain of it. The other person would have been a translator at some of these dinners. I can't remember which ones.
Were there any other individuals there involved with HRAGI or Prevezon work beyond the people you've mentioned?
When you say "there," you're talking about now?
You're right. At the hearing.
The hearing. Before you were asking about the dinners, right?
Now you're asking about the hearing. I just want to be clear. Well, it was a crowded hearing and there may have been other people involved. I mean, I remember specifically pretty much most of the Baker legal team was there, Natalia was there, I believe she—I believe Anatoli was her translator for that. There was some other people who I think were also from Baker Hostetler who were there. Former Attorney General Mukasey was arguing for Prevezon. So I just remember that there were lawyers—people who I believed were lawyers who were there to watch the argument and maybe had some connection to the case. There was another associate I think from New York who was there, usually came to some of the Court hearings. That's all I remember.
And the first dinner on the 8th were there any other attendees?
I don't remember. I think John Moscow might have been there.
And the second dinner on the 10th, were there any other attendees beyond the ones you've already described?
I don't recall. My wife.
You mentioned that information Fusion had gathered may have been passed on to the HRAGI people via Baker Hostetler or if they instructed you to that you would have. Did you have any expectation that that would reasonably result in them influencing U.S. policy?
I can't say that I would have specifically expected anything from that. I was acting—lawyers hire me to do research for them, the research is their property or their client's property, it's not mine. So if they want me to provide it to somebody else, it's their information. So I would—it's a fairly ministerial thing. I'm not sure I would have an expectation of any sort of specific result from that.
But you did understand HRAGI to be lobbying on the Hill?
They were registered to lobby on the Hill. So I believe that's what they were doing, yeah.
And did you understand that your actions on behalf of Prevezon or Baker Hostetler would principally benefit the Russian government? Who did you believe the principal beneficiary to be?
I'd like to note for the record that Patrick is smiling as he's asking the question. You can answer.
He's trying to contain his laughter.
We did not believe that was being done on behalf of the Russian government.
What do you understand Prevezon's relationship, if any, to be with the Russian government?
Prevezon was introduced to me as the client and Denis Katsyv was the owner of Prevezon. Generally speaking, when we take on a new case, you know, from a respected law firm part of the, you know, discussion is who's the client, and, you know, Mark Cymrot said they've checked out Denis Katsyv and he has—he's a legitimate businessman. He's got a real estate company, it's a successful company, and he has an explanation for how he makes his money and appears to be legit. To some extent whenever you enter a new case that's part of what you're being hired to determine is whether that initial due diligence stands up, but in any event, he was presented to me as a successful real estate investor.
I say, I worked with Baker Hostetler for a number of years and it's a conservative midwestern law firm with a lot of respected people in it, and part of the obligations of lawyers in this country and now in a lot of other countries is to determine where their money comes from and who their clients are and whether their clients are involved in criminal activity. I don't remember the exact specifics of our discussions of these matters, but one of the issues was whether he's a legitimate businessman.
Did you ever receive a letter of inquiry from the Department of Justice regarding the applicability of the Foreign Agent Registration Act to your work on the Prevezon case or Magnitsky matter?
No, I have not.
Did you charge any fees to any other entities or people besides Baker Hostetler for work on the Prevezon or Magnitsky matters?
I don't think so, no. I specifically can tell you I wasn't compensated by this foundation or anybody else involved in any of the lobbying.
At the time of this June—early June trip to New York had you already engaged Mr. Steele to do work on Mr. Trump's involvement with Russia?
I don't specifically remember. As I mentioned, the actual agreements are handled by other people on my staff.
Which employees and associates of Fusion worked on the project investigating then candidate Donald Trump?
We can give you that information at the end of the interview.
Why at the end of the interview?
I just want to make sure that employees involved in this matter are protected. We've had death threats come to the company. We'll be happy to cooperate with the committee and give the names of those people. I just want to do it outside of this transcript, unless you're going to assure me the transcript is going to be kept confidential.
Let's go back to the previous question. What was the previous question?
Whether he'd already started working with Mr. Steele during the time of the—
During the time of the meetings in early June, right? And your answer was?
I don't know.
Do you have—you said you don't handle those issues at the company.
So your company does have records that would establish that fact?
We keep books and records. We should have records of agreements and things, yeah.
So did you not review any of those in preparation for today?
What he reviewed is privileged.
Have you reviewed them—I'm not asking if you reviewed them with counsel. Have you reviewed them recently?
If he reviewed anything to prepare for this interview it would have been at the direction of counsel and attorney work product.
So you do or don't know whether you have such records that would identify the date—the precise dates of the engagements?
I'm just asking what he knows.
I think he's told you. Go ahead.
I'll just restate that we run a—it's a reasonably well-run company, we keep books and records. So, you know, those kinds of things are kept in our corporate files.
Did Baker Hostetler or Prevezon pay for your travel to New York for the meetings in June of 2016?
The dinner after the hearing.
The purpose of the trip was the hearing. It was routine for me to attend hearings. So I would bill them—my office would bill them for my train trips and hotels depending on whether there was—whether it was specifically for the Prevezon case. I don't know if—I don't know for a fact that we billed them.
Did you travel with any other members of the Prevezon team either to or from New York?
I don't think so.
So I think you've already stated that Ed Baumgartner worked on both projects, on the Prevezon project and another Trump investigation. To the best of your knowledge, does Mr. Baumgartner know Rinat Akhmetshin?
I don't know. I'd just like to clarify, you know, my recollection is that Ed worked—the Prevezon thing wound down and I don't think I brought Ed on until it was either ending or had already ended.
Can you clarify the time frame for when it was winding down?
Talk about what the "it" was when you say "it."
The hearing was on June 9th, I guess we said, and that was the culmination of a long controversy over whether Browder was going to have to testify and whether, you know, we had to be disqualified and, you know, there was a whole series of media attacks on us during that period from Browder. Then nothing happened after that and that was, you know, sort of the peak of that. It was after that that a lot of the issues involving Russia and the campaign started to heat up.
Was there any overlap between the employees from Fusion who were working on the Trump investigation and the Prevezon case?
I think the primary employees did not overlap, but I can't tell you that there was a Chinese wall of separation. Various people specialize in certain things and can contribute ad hoc to something.
And you worked on both, correct?
Yes, I did.
You previously mentioned that Fusion had hired subcontractors beyond Mr. Steele to work on the Trump project. Was there any overlap of other subcontractors between the Trump investigation and the Prevezon work?
Not to my recollection.
And had Fusion worked with Mr. Steele prior to this project regarding Mr. Trump?
And had you previously paid him or Orbis?
I believe so, yeah.
And had Fusion been paid by him or Orbis as well?
Yes, I believe so.
And are you aware of any interactions Mr. Steele had with the FBI prior to his work on the investigation of Mr. Trump and his associates?
Could you repeat that?
Are you aware of any interactions with Mr. Steele with the FBI prior to his work on the investigation of Mr. Trump and his association?
I was not at the time, but I am now.
Did you have reason to believe that in his prior position within British intelligence he would have interacted with the FBI?
Yes, he's told me that.
Do you believe that the FBI generally considers sources more credible if they have previously provided reliable information?
That's my understanding.
Was Mr. Steele's reportedly successful history in working with the FBI a factor in deciding to hire Orbis for the Trump project?
Do you know Christopher Burrows?
Do you know if he worked on the Trump- Russia project with Orbis?
I do not.
Do you know Sir Andrew Wood?
Are you aware he's an associate of Orbis Business Intelligence?
I am aware of that as of now. I didn't know it—I don't know when I learned of it, but I didn't know it last year, much of last year.
Did Fusion ask Orbis to undertake other actions beyond preparing the memoranda containing the allegations regarding Mr. Trump and his associates?
Not that I specifically—I'm sorry. In connection with that engagement?
In connection with that engagement.
Not that I specifically recall.
Did you communicate with Mr. Steele other than through these memos? Did you have phone calls and e-mails with him?
You did also e-mail with him?
Nothing—I don't believe I had anything substantive. E-mail security is a major problem. So, generally speaking, we would try to communicate telephonically on an encrypted line.
Did you have another method of communicating with him via text.
I mean, we used encrypted methods of communicating. Part of the security concern we have involve there's been a lot of attempts to break into our systems. So I prefer not to get into a lot of that, but suffice to say we use secured encrypted systems.
Regardless of the details of how you did, do you retain copies of written communications that you may have engaged with him through some other secure method?
You have not retained?
Generally we use things that can't be stolen because they no longer exist.
Disappearing messages, auto deleting messages? Is that correct?
That sort of thing, yes, that's correct.
I just needed a verbal answer.
You previously mentioned the relationship with Mr. Steele was more collaborative than a manager-employee and I think you referenced mentioning as an example Paul Manafort's been named campaign chairman, what do you know about him. Did you collaborate with Mr. Steele on the content of the memos even if he did the drafting?
No, generally speaking. I was managing a much bigger project and he's a reliable provider. So I did very little tasking.
You mentioned other subcontractors were focusing on other regions in which the Trump organization has business. Were those other subcontractors retained until the election or how long did their engagements last?
It was ad hoc. So as things came we said can we find someone in Latin America, give them an assignment, they'd complete the assignment. If there's no more to do, stop. So it's hard to generalize.
One point I'd like to clarify from Ms. Sawyer's questioning. I believe you said that Mr. Steele had told you that the FBI had a source from inside the Trump organization and I believe she referred to a source from inside the Trump campaign. Do you know which is the accurate—
He's not going to get into the details of that source.
I'm not asking for any particular details. It was characterized differently by you and by counsel. I just wanted to make sure.
I don't know.
So you don't know whether it was the organization or the campaign, in other words?
And did Mr. Steele tell you that the FBI had relayed this information to him?
He didn't specifically say that.
I'm going to have you take a look at one of the filings—
I thought you said earlier that he did say the FBI told him.
I think I was saying we did not have the detailed conversations where he would debrief me on his discussions with the FBI. He would say very generic things like I saw them, they asked me a lot of questions, sounds like they have another source or they have another source. He wouldn't put words in their mouth.
I'm going to have you take a look at one of the filings by Mr. Steele's attorneys in the lawsuit against him and Orbis in the United Kingdom. This will be Exhibit 4. If you could please turn to page 2 and read paragraph No. 8. That paragraph states "At all material times Fusion was subject to an obligation not to disclose to third parties confidential intelligence material provided to it by the Defendants in the course of that working relationship without the agreement of the Defendants." Is that a correct description of your understanding of how the material was to be treated?
There's also a context to that who the Defendants are in other such matters.
Sure. The Defendants are Orbis Business Intelligence Limited and Christopher Steele.
What's the question?
Is that an accurate description of what you understood the obligations to be with that material?
I mean, that's hard for me to answer. There's a mutual expectation of confidentiality, and if that's what you read that as saying, then yes, there's a mutual expectation of confidentiality.
Was that expectation established by contract?
We're not going to talk about contracts with clients.
Was it established by practice?
I guess I'll just reiterate we do confidential work together and we treat all matters as confidential. He's pretty good at sticking to that and so am I.
Was any of the information included in the memoranda Orbis prepared during the Trump investigation not considered "confidential intelligence" under this understanding such that Fusion was not required to obtain Orbis's permission in order to disclose it?
I don't really understand the question.
I'm saying if the understanding is that you weren't to disclose confidential intelligence material, were the memos confidential intelligence material, the dossier memos?
They're confidential, yes.
Hold on one second. Here's the mischief that's created by that. Someone else is sending this and you're asking what they mean. There may be direct answers to those questions if you ask direct questions, but to do it in the frame of reference of someone else putting forth a piece of evidence, which this is, it inevitably creates confusion. The reference to the document adds nothing to his knowledge. It's just simply a point of reference by you, but it doesn't add anything to what he might be saying. So I think the better way to get at it is simply to ask direct questions.
There are two parties to this, at least, and we've got one's description. I'd like to know if he agrees with that description.
But even within what do they mean by this is the question. I mean, what do they mean by this sort of paragraph. You're asking him for an interpretation. He can answer questions about the relationship.
I'm asking him to give an interpretation of their agreement in terms of what he did.
And therein lies the problem.
But if it's an agreement to which he's a party, there's a basis for that understanding.
I don't think that's the way the rule works.
Well, I think the bigger mischief from my point of view is the fact that we're trying to get an understanding of what the contractual relationship was. You're telling us you're not going to provide us with details about that contractual relationship, you're not going to provide us with copies of any nondisclosure agreements, contracts we've asked for and we don't have. So we're asking him for his understanding of what obligations he had.
And that's outside the scope of this interview. Go ahead.
Can I in general ask that you guys all speak up a little bit because we're right under the blower.
The record will reflect we are not raising our voices.
To be clear, you're instructing him not to answer that question because you think it's outside the scope of what he agreed to come here to talk about voluntarily?
That's not what I said. You had made a comment about contracts, and I just wanted to make sure that obviously the Chair and the Ranking Member have agreed those questions are not part of the scope of this interview. That said, I've now forgotten what the pending question was. So if Patrick wants to restate it he can and we can evaluate it.
Sure. In general we're asking questions about distribution of the material within the dossier which was the scope of the agreement. If you look at page 4 of that same exhibit, paragraph 30, Steele's attorneys state "The Defendants"—and again, that's Orbis Business Intelligence and Christopher Steele—"did not however provide any of the pre-election memoranda to any of the media or journalists, nor did they authorize anyone to do so, nor did they provide the confidential December memorandum to media organizations or journalists, nor did they authorize anyone to do so."
To the best of your knowledge, did Orbis ever authorize Fusion to make any disclosures of the memoranda to the media?
Just before we get into this question, this paragraph began with a sentence you did not read and it says "In the first sentence of subparagraph 8.2.5 as noted." I don't know what they're referring to. Maybe you do. Can you show us that?
I don't have that with me at the moment, but I'll see if we can find it. Regardless, did Orbis ever authorize you to share the memoranda with the media?
I'm not sure I can answer this in—I'm not sure I know the answer to this.
If you don't know, then...
It's a little confusing.
You don't know whether or not Orbis or Mr. Steele authorized you to distribute the memos to the media?
I think what I would like to say is that we had discussions about, you know, information as opposed to memos and, you know, at various times in talking to reporters about the Trump-Russia connection, you know, things—those discussions would be informed by what's in the memos.
So are you saying that you may have provided information from the memos to the media without discussing whether or not—without getting permission specifically From Mr. Steele or Orbis?
What I'm saying is we discussed that. No. I'm saying we discussed generally the wisdom of answering questions from reporters about different matters, what we could say and what we couldn't say.
And in those discussions did he ever authorize you to discuss the information contained in the memoranda with the media?
As I've stated before, this is not a master-servant relationship. We worked together. Sometimes he's working for my clients, sometimes I'm working for his. So we might jointly make a decision, but it's not a sort of can I do this, yes you can do that kind of relationship. So if they—so I hope that's responsive.
So did you ever share either the memos or the content of the memos with the media independently of him without having discussed it with him?
I think what I said was I had spoken with reporters over the course of the summer and through the fall about the investigations by the government and the controversy over connections between—alleged connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Some of what we discussed was informed by Chris's reporting. So whether that was—I don't think there's any sense that that was an unauthorized thing to do.
On page 5—
Is it something that you discussed with him that you were doing?
We would discuss inquiries that we had received from reporters, yes.
And that you were answering?
To the best of our ability. I mean, we obviously didn't tell people about the existence of these things for a long time.
On page 5 of that same exhibit, paragraph 32 there's a portion of the sentence—and I'll just read this for background before we move on to another segment. I think this is relevant for context. There's a portion here in which Steele's attorneys state that he gave—that the Defendants gave "Off-the-record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda in late summer/autumn 2016." I'd like to provide Exhibit 5 which is the second filing by Mr. Steele's attorneys.
Patrick, you've represented this one as the second filing. Are we sure these are—
Second for the purpose of this interview, second one we're referencing.
Were these documents that were requested or obtained from a third party in the course of the investigation?
These were documents that were published in the media. I believe the second one was published by McClatchy.
And what about the first?
That was the one published by the Washington Times.
So with the second one on page 8 of Exhibit 5, under the response to 18 Steele's attorneys state "The journalists initially briefed at the end of September 2016 by the second Defendant and Fusion at Fusion's instruction were from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN. The second Defendant"—that would be Mr. Steele—"subsequently participated in further meetings at Fusion's instruction with Fusion and the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Yahoo News which took place in mid-October 2016. In each of those cases the briefing was conducted verbally in person. In addition, and again at Fusion's instruction, in late October 2016 the second Defendant briefed the journalist from Mother Jones by Skype. No copies of the pre-election memoranda were ever shown or provided to any journalist by or with the authorization of the Defendants. The briefings involved the disclosure of limited intelligence regarding indications of Russian interference in the U.S. election process and the possible coordination of members of Trump's campaign team and Russian government officials."
To the best of your knowledge, is that a full and accurate account of all the news organizations with which Fusion and Mr. Steele shared information from the memoranda.
I'd say it's largely right.
Are there any that have been omitted?
Just say what you know or recall.
Yeah. I think there's at least one thing misidentified. There might have been another. I can't specifically think of it, but I think this is incomplete, that maybe one of the broadcast networks is misidentified. I just don't have a tally of this. It's mostly right.
By broadcast network I assume you mean CNN is incorrect, it was a different network?
I think so.
Do you recall which network it was?
I think it was ABC.
Did you attend these meetings with Mr. Steele?
Did any other Fusion associates attend?
Can you identify them?
We can give that to you afterwards.
Do you recall the specific dates of these meetings?
I believe the filing says end of September 2016. Does that comport with your recollection?
Was this, as far as you know, before or after Mr. Steele had had his second meeting with the FBI?
I don't remember. Sorry.
Did Mr. Steele ever indicate to you whether the FBI had asked him not to speak with the media?
I remember Chris saying at some point that they were upset with media coverage of some of the issues that he had discussed with him.
Sorry. I didn't hear.
He never said they told him he couldn't talk to them.
Do you recall which journalists you spoke to at each of these organizations and what information from the memoranda was revealed to each?
I remember some of them and I remember some of the names, yeah, some of the people I talked to and some of these discussions.
Can you tell us what those were?
The answer to that question goes to confidential conversations that's been declined to answer.
Sorry. Confidential what?
The answer to that question might implicate privilege and other obligations we've already set forth and he's not going to answer the question.
What's the privilege?
First amendment, confidentiality.
Confidentiality agreement, contractual obligation, is that what you're talking about?
No. Just talking to confidential sources, First Amendment issue. We can discuss it later after the interview.
Mr. Steele's filing indicates that these meetings occurred at Fusion's instruction. Is that correct, did you initiate these meetings and instruct Mr. Steele to participate in them?
I'd just reiterate the nature of our relationship was that we would—I might propose something and he might agree to do it, but it was not a—it was not a military style relationship where I gave the orders and he carried them out.
Was part of the purpose of your investigation to share information with journalists?
I think that's a fair statement. To the extent—I mean, I'm sorry. Could you be clear. You mean the project overall?
Yes, investigating Mr. Trump and his associates.
As I said earlier, in any project, and that would include this one, the objective is to gather relevant information, and some of that information was gathered for other purposes and some of it was gathered for the possibility that it might be useful to the press.
Did your client instruct you to have these meetings?
The answer to that question might implicate privilege or obligations that we've set forth.
Do you have any reason to believe that Mr. Steele passed any information on to journalists without Fusion?
Without me—you mean without me participating, without me authorizing it? Can you be more specific?
Sure. Let's start without you participating. The filing references meetings that both you and Fusion jointly had with journalists. Do you believe he had any meetings with journalists without you present?
Without Mr. Simpson physically present?
For physical meetings or via Skype, without him aware of them contemporaneously.
That's a difficult question to answer because I don't know what I don't know, but I don't have any reason to believe that he did anything that I didn't authorize or approve.
Jason may have already touched on this, but did Fusion disclose hard copies of the memoranda to any journalists?
The answer to that question might implicate privilege or obligations. So he's going to decline to answer that question.
Doesn't the filing say that they did not?
While our letter to the committee has said that neither Mr. Simpson nor Fusion GPS provided the dossier to BuzzFeed, Mr. Simpson's going to decline to answer your question respectfully. He's given you a lot of information today. He's not going to answer that question.
Still with Exhibit 5 on page 2, the responses to 4 and 6. Here the attorneys for Orbis and Mr. Steele—
Where are you again?
Page 2, the response to 4 and to 6. Here the attorneys for Orbis and Mr. Steele state "The duty not to disclose intelligence to third parties without the prior agreement of the Defendants"—again, that's Orbis and Mr. Steele—"do not extend to disclosure by Fusion to its clients, although the Defendants understand that copies of the memoranda were not disclosed by Fusion."
Where are you? You're on page 2—okay. I see it now.
-- "do not extend to disclosure by Fusion to its clients, although the Defendants understand that copies of the memoranda were not disclosed by Fusion to its clients."
Further down on that same page in response to a question about whether Fusion's clients, insofar as disclosure to them, was permitted, could themselves disclose the intelligence from Orbis, the filing responds "Defendants understood that the arrangement between Fusion and its clients was that intelligence would not be disclosed."
Is that a correct statement of the relationship between you and the client, did Fusion not disclose the memoranda or information contained there in to its clients?
He's not going to get into discussion with the client because of privileges and obligations that might be implicated by the answer to that question.
Do you believe this filing is accurate in those paragraphs?
Again, to comment on that he would have to talk about client communications that are privileged and might implicate privilege or obligation were he to answer your question.
Mr. Simpson, do you believe that any confidentiality obligations regarding the memos did not extend to law enforcement and intelligence services?
Yes. I mean, I—well, in general I think that in the course of any sort of confidential business lawyers or other professionals engage in if they come across information about a possible terrorist attack or a mafia operation they should report it, yes, and that that is, in fact, not covered by ordinary confidentiality.
Was Fusion aware of the reports that the FBI considered—let me rephrase. Was Fusion aware that the FBI considered paying Mr. Steele to investigate Mr. Trump and his associates?
At any time.
When you say "paying," what do you mean by that?
For a fee? Are you talking about reimbursements?
Fees or reimbursements in this context.
We've learned that. We know that now. In fact, it was—
Well, we learned—sometime after the election we learned that Chris had discussed working for the FBI on these matters after the election and that that didn't happen.
Did Mr. Steele discuss that with you at the time?
He didn't discuss it—I don't remember exactly when he mentioned this to me, but he mentioned to me at some point I think after the election that he had discussed this with them.
So prior to news reports to that effect? In other words, you learned it from him not from the news; is that right?
Wait. You asked two different questions. I'm trying to figure out which one you want him to answer.
The last one.
What was the last one?
You learned it from the news and not from him? Are you saying you learned it from him?
Learned what from him?
That he discussed with the FBI having the FBI pay Mr. Steele.
I don't remember.
The witness is yawning. Let's take a break.
We will attribute that to fatigue as opposed to the questions.
Let's go off the record. It is 3:55.
We'll go back on the record. It's now 4:05. We'll continue with the questions.
Mr. Simpson, did anyone from Fusion ever communicate with the FBI regarding information in the memoranda or other allegations regarding Mr. Trump and his associates?
From Fusion, did anyone from Fusion communicate with the FBI? No, no one from Fusion ever spoke with the FBI, to the best of my knowledge.
Did you ever exchange any e-mails with them?
We did not communicate with them by e-mail either.
Do you know any current or former FBI personnel?
As a general matter?
Yeah, as a general matter.
As a general matter I'm sure I do. I know current and former law enforcement officials. I go to a lot of crime conferences and things like that.
Were any of them consulted as part of this investigation?
Not to my recollection.
Was the amount of Fusion's compensation in the Trump investigation dependent on the FBI initiating an investigation of Mr. Trump or his associates?
Was the amount of Orbis's compensation dependent on the FBI initiating an investigation of Mr. Trump and his associates?
Other than Senator McCain, who we'll discuss later, did Fusion or Orbis disclose any of the memoranda information contained therein or related information from Mr. Steele with any elected officials or staff in Congress?
I don't recall having done so, no.
If we could turn briefly back to Exhibits 4 and 5. I just want to reference two things.
I also want to clarify in the premise of that question there were factual assertions made that may or may not be true to which the witness did not respond.
Sure. Understood. To be clear, we obviously were not referencing any disclosures to this committee as part of the committee's inquiry.
So on Exhibit 4, page 3, paragraph 21
Mr. Steele's attorneys state that the post-election dossier memoranda was provided to a senior United Kingdom government national security official acting in his official capacity. In Exhibit 5 on page 2—I'm sorry—page 5, the response to 13 similarly references disclosing that memoranda to the UK national security official.
Mr. Simpson, to the best of your knowledge, were the memoranda or information contained therein disclosed to foreign governments?
I have no knowledge of this beyond what you're showing me. I can tell you about, you know, what I know about Chris's encounter with David Kramer and how all that came about. If Chris specifically said something to me about showing this to one of his government officials I don't remember it. So...
Why don't you walk them through.
If you want to know the rest of the story, I'm happy to walk you through it.
Sure, we can do that.
So after the election obviously we were as surprised as everyone else and Chris and I were mutually concerned about whether the United States had just elected someone who was compromised by a hostile foreign power, more in my case whether the election had been tainted by an intervention by the Russian intelligence services, and we were, you know, unsure what to do. Initially we didn't do anything other than to discuss our concerns, but we were gravely concerned.
some point a few weeks after the election Chris called me and said that he had received an inquiry from David Kramer, who was a long-time advisor to Senator McCain, and that according to—Kramer told Chris that he had run into Sir Andrew Wood at a security conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia and that Kramer was accompanying Senator McCain to this conference and that the three of them had had an unscheduled or unplanned encounter where the issue of this research was discussed and the essence of it, I guess, was conveyed to Senator McCain and to David Kramer from Andrew Wood. I don't remember whether Andrew Wood's name was specifically given to me by Christopher Steele at that time. It was later given to me. It later became an accepted fact that Chris had mentioned him to me. I believe he probably mentioned it.
But anyway, he did say someone that he worked with in the past who was a former UK government official with experience in Russia had had this conversation with David Kramer and John McCain and that Senator McCain had followed up on it as to what more there was to know about these allegations, this information.
So Chris asked me do you know David Kramer, and I said yes, I've known David Kramer for a long time. David Kramer is part of a small group of people that I'm sort of loosely affiliated with. We've all worked on Russia and are very concerned about kleptocracy and human rights and the police state that Russia has become, in particular the efforts of the Russians to corrupt and mess with our political system. So we shared this concern going back to when I was at the Wall Street Journal and that's how I met David. He was working at the State Department as assistant secretary for human rights, and I was reporting on human rights and corruption in Russia.
So I told Chris he's legit. David is someone I've known for a long time and he knows a lot about these issues and he's very concerned about Putin and the Kremlin and the rise of the new Russia and criminality and kleptocracy. So he said, well, can we trust him? And I said yes, I think we can trust him. He says he wants information to give to Senator McCain so that Senator McCain can ask questions about it at the FBI, with the leadership of the FBI. That was essentially—all we sort of wanted was for the government to do its job and we were concerned about whether the information that we provided previously had ever, you know, risen to the leadership level of the FBI. We simply just didn't know. It was our belief that Director Comey if he was aware—if he was made aware of this information would treat it seriously.
Again, at this time, you know, while we believed that we had very credible reporting here, you know, what we really—we just wanted people in official positions to ascertain whether it was accurate or not. You know, we just felt that was our obligation. So I said to Chris I think we can trust him, and he said okay. Well, he was here, I met with him, and I told him what happened. Now he's back in Washington and, you know, I'm going to hand him to you.
I don't remember whether I called David or David called me, I just don't remember, but we got in touch and he, you know, asked me—we met.
And after you met how did he—did you provide the memoranda to—
Sorry. Finish your question.
-- did you provide the memoranda to him?
The answer to that question might implicate privilege and other obligations. So he's going to decline to answer the question.
Did Mr. Steele represent to you that Orbis or Mr. Wood had initiated this contact with Mr. Kramer and Mr. McCain to share the dossier information?
Well, that has two parts on that question. I think I can answer the first part which I think answers the second. Anyway, he did not describe this as having been initiated by Orbis. He described this as a chance encounter at a security conference where, you know, someone who had some knowledge of these matters shared it with Senator McCain and David Kramer and that caused David Kramer to follow up with Chris and that it was passive. In other words, it was initiated by Mr. Kramer.
Did Mr. Steele describe anyone else being involved at the Halifax international security conference in this discussion?
Not that I can recall.
According to the official attendee list for that conference, Mr. Akhmetshin was also there. To the best of your knowledge, was he involved in any capacity in the effort to discuss the dossier information with Mr. Kramer and Mr. McCain?
That's the first time I've received that information. So I don't have any knowledge.
And you haven't spoken with Mr. Akhmetshin about that, I assume?
In addition to the disclosures we have already discussed, to whom did Fusion GPS provide the memoranda, information contained therein, or related information from Orbis?
Beyond what you've discussed?
Anyone we've left out.
The answer to that might implicate privilege or other obligations. So he's going to decline to answer the question.
To the extent there's any portion of the answer to that question that would not implicate those privileges, I would ask that you reveal those.
I'm not sure I see how I could answer that question without getting into privileged areas.
Again, what privilege?
We can discuss it at the end. It's a voluntary interview. He's declining to answer that.
Did any Fusion employees communicate with any foreign governments or foreign intelligence agencies about the memoranda or the information contained therein?
I don't believe so, certainly not knowingly.
Did you and Mr. Steele ever discuss any communications he had with foreign government officials about the information in the memoranda?
It would be difficult—nothing specific that I recall. There are parts of the memos that talk about information that foreign government officials provided in the course of their research, but beyond what's in the memos I don't really have any recollection.
Do you know who paid for Mr. Steele's trip to Rome to meet with the FBI?
I have read recently that—I think in a letter from Senator Grassley that the FBI reimbursed the expense, but to be clear, I mean, that's it. He was, to my knowledge, not been compensated for that work or any other work during this time.
I'm sorry. You're saying that Fusion did not pay for the trip?
Go ahead and answer the question.
I don't think we did. I have no information that we paid for it. Again, this sort of emphasizes, you know, the point I was making earlier which was this was something that I considered to be something that Chris took on on his own based on his professional obligations and not something that was part of my project. So it makes sense to me that he was reimbursed by them, not us.
To clarify, you were saying his interactions with the FBI were not part of your project?
They obviously grew out of the project, but as he explained it to me, you know, when you learn things in your daily life that raise national security considerations you're obligated to report them. So that wouldn't have anything to do with my client's goals or project.
But in your briefings with journalists you did reference his interactions—Mr. Steele's interactions with the FBI, correct?
At some point that occurred, but I don't believe it occurred until very late in the process.
Can you estimate when in the process?
It was probably the last few days before the election or immediately thereafter.
So the meetings in September that you referenced, you didn't reveal Mr. Steele passing on information to the FBI?
Can you repeat the question. Sorry.
So in your meetings with journalists in September you didn't reference Mr. Steele's interactions with the FBI or passing on of information to them?
I don't recall.
I think my hour is up.
Off the record at 4:21.