Davis Interview #3

Mr. Davis

We'll go back on the record. It's now 3:09.

Mr. Davis

Mr. Simpson, do you know Emin Agalarov, E-M-I-N, A-G-A-L-A-R-O-V?

Mr. Levy

Personally or just does he know about him?

Mr. Davis

Personally.

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

Do you know Aras, A-R-A-S, Agalarov?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

Has Fusion ever worked with either of them?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

To the best of your knowledge, have either of them had any role in the Prevezon work?

Mr. Simpson

Not to my knowledge.

Mr. Davis

Do you know Rob Goldstone?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

Has Fusion ever worked with him?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

Paid him or been paid by him?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

To the best of your knowledge, has Mr. Goldstone had any work in the Prevezon or Magnitsky work?

Mr. Simpson

Not to my knowledge.

Mr. Davis

When you had these dinners in June of 2006 with Ms. Veselnitskaya, who else attended those dinners?

Mr. Foster

2016.

Mr. Davis

2016. Excuse me.

Mr. Simpson

The Baker lawyers would have attended, did attend.

Mr. Davis

Was Rinat Akhmetshin there?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Do you recall if he was at the court hearing on the 9th?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Were there any other individuals there involved with HRAGI or Prevezon work beyond the people you've mentioned?

Mr. Levy

When you say "there," you're talking about now?

Mr. Davis

You're right. At the hearing.

Mr. Simpson

The hearing. Before you were asking about the dinners, right?

Mr. Davis

I was.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

And the first dinner on the 8th were there any other attendees?

Mr. Simpson

I don't remember. I think John Moscow might have been there.

Mr. Davis

And the second dinner on the 10th, were there any other attendees beyond the ones you've already described?

Mr. Simpson

I don't recall. My wife.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

But you did understand HRAGI to be lobbying on the Hill?

Mr. Simpson

They were registered to lobby on the Hill. So I believe that's what they were doing, yeah.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Levy

I'd like to note for the record that Patrick is smiling as he's asking the question. You can answer.

Mr. Muse

He's trying to contain his laughter.

Mr. Simpson

We did not believe that was being done on behalf of the Russian government.

Mr. Davis

What do you understand Prevezon's relationship, if any, to be with the Russian government?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

No, I have not.

Mr. Davis

Did you charge any fees to any other entities or people besides Baker Hostetler for work on the Prevezon or Magnitsky matters?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

I don't specifically remember. As I mentioned, the actual agreements are handled by other people on my staff.

Mr. Davis

Which employees and associates of Fusion worked on the project investigating then candidate Donald Trump?

Mr. Levy

We can give you that information at the end of the interview.

Mr. Davis

Why at the end of the interview?

Mr. Levy

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.

Mr. Foster

Let's go back to the previous question. What was the previous question?

Mr. Davis

Whether he'd already started working with Mr. Steele during the time of the—

Mr. Foster

During the time of the meetings in early June, right? And your answer was?

Mr. Simpson

I don't know.

Mr. Foster

Do you have—you said you don't handle those issues at the company.

Mr. Simpson

That's right.

Mr. Foster

So your company does have records that would establish that fact?

Mr. Simpson

We keep books and records. We should have records of agreements and things, yeah.

Mr. Foster

So did you not review any of those in preparation for today?

Mr. Levy

What he reviewed is privileged.

Mr. Foster

Have you reviewed them—I'm not asking if you reviewed them with counsel. Have you reviewed them recently?

Mr. Levy

If he reviewed anything to prepare for this interview it would have been at the direction of counsel and attorney work product.

Mr. Foster

So you do or don't know whether you have such records that would identify the date—the precise dates of the engagements?

Mr. Levy

We will—

Mr. Foster

I'm just asking what he knows.

Mr. Levy

I think he's told you. Go ahead.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Did Baker Hostetler or Prevezon pay for your travel to New York for the meetings in June of 2016?

Mr. Levy

The meetings?

Mr. Davis

The dinner after the hearing.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Did you travel with any other members of the Prevezon team either to or from New York?

Mr. Simpson

I don't think so.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Can you clarify the time frame for when it was winding down?

Mr. Levy

Talk about what the "it" was when you say "it."

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Was there any overlap between the employees from Fusion who were working on the Trump investigation and the Prevezon case?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

And you worked on both, correct?

Mr. Simpson

Yes, I did.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

Not to my recollection.

Mr. Davis

And had Fusion worked with Mr. Steele prior to this project regarding Mr. Trump?

Mr. Simpson

Yes.

Mr. Davis

And had you previously paid him or Orbis?

Mr. Simpson

I believe so, yeah.

Mr. Davis

And had Fusion been paid by him or Orbis as well?

Mr. Simpson

Yes, I believe so.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Muse

Could you repeat that?

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

I was not at the time, but I am now.

Mr. Davis

Did you have reason to believe that in his prior position within British intelligence he would have interacted with the FBI?

Mr. Simpson

Yes, he's told me that.

Mr. Davis

Do you believe that the FBI generally considers sources more credible if they have previously provided reliable information?

Mr. Simpson

That's my understanding.

Mr. Davis

Was Mr. Steele's reportedly successful history in working with the FBI a factor in deciding to hire Orbis for the Trump project?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

Do you know Christopher Burrows?

Mr. Simpson

Yes.

Mr. Davis

Do you know if he worked on the Trump- Russia project with Orbis?

Mr. Simpson

I do not.

Mr. Davis

Do you know Sir Andrew Wood?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

Are you aware he's an associate of Orbis Business Intelligence?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Did Fusion ask Orbis to undertake other actions beyond preparing the memoranda containing the allegations regarding Mr. Trump and his associates?

Mr. Simpson

Not that I specifically—I'm sorry. In connection with that engagement?

Mr. Davis

In connection with that engagement.

Mr. Simpson

Not that I specifically recall.

Mr. Davis

Did you communicate with Mr. Steele other than through these memos? Did you have phone calls and e-mails with him?

Mr. Simpson Mostly we spoke by phone. Mr. Foster

You did also e-mail with him?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Foster

Did you have another method of communicating with him via text.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Foster

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?

Mr. Simpson

Generally not.

Mr. Foster

You have not retained?

Mr. Simpson

Generally we use things that can't be stolen because they no longer exist.

Mr. Foster

Disappearing messages, auto deleting messages? Is that correct?

Mr. Simpson

That sort of thing, yes, that's correct.

Mr. Foster

I just needed a verbal answer.

Mr. Simpson

Yeah. Sorry.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

No, generally speaking. I was managing a much bigger project and he's a reliable provider. So I did very little tasking.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

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—

Mr. Levy

He's not going to get into the details of that source.

Mr. Davis

I'm not asking for any particular details. It was characterized differently by you and by counsel. I just wanted to make sure.

Mr. Simpson

I don't know.

Mr. Foster

So you don't know whether it was the organization or the campaign, in other words?

Mr. Simpson

That's correct.

Mr. Foster Meaning the business versus the campaign. Mr. Davis

And did Mr. Steele tell you that the FBI had relayed this information to him?

Mr. Simpson

He didn't specifically say that.

Mr. Davis

I'm going to have you take a look at one of the filings—

Mr. Foster

I thought you said earlier that he did say the FBI told him.

Mr. Simpson

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.


Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Muse

There's also a context to that who the Defendants are in other such matters.

Mr. Davis

Sure. The Defendants are Orbis Business Intelligence Limited and Christopher Steele.

Mr. Simpson

What's the question?

Mr. Davis

Is that an accurate description of what you understood the obligations to be with that material?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Was that expectation established by contract?

Mr. Levy

We're not going to talk about contracts with clients.

Mr. Davis

Was it established by practice?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

I don't really understand the question.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

They're confidential, yes.

Mr. Muse

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.

Mr. Davis

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.

Mr. Muse

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.

Mr. Davis

I'm asking him to give an interpretation of their agreement in terms of what he did.

Mr. Muse

And therein lies the problem.

Mr. Davis

But if it's an agreement to which he's a party, there's a basis for that understanding.

Mr. Muse

I don't think that's the way the rule works.

Mr. Foster

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.

Mr. Levy

And that's outside the scope of this interview. Go ahead.

Ms. SAWYER

Can I in general ask that you guys all speak up a little bit because we're right under the blower.

Mr. Levy

Will do.

Mr. Foster

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?

Mr. Levy

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.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Levy

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?

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

I'm not sure I can answer this in—I'm not sure I know the answer to this.

Mr. Levy

If you don't know, then...

Mr. Simpson

It's a little confusing.

Mr. Foster

You don't know whether or not Orbis or Mr. Steele authorized you to distribute the memos to the media?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Foster

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?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Foster

And in those discussions did he ever authorize you to discuss the information contained in the memoranda with the media?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Foster

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?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

On page 5—

Mr. Foster

Is it something that you discussed with him that you were doing?

Mr. Simpson

We would discuss inquiries that we had received from reporters, yes.

Mr. Foster

And that you were answering?

Mr. Simpson

To the best of our ability. I mean, we obviously didn't tell people about the existence of these things for a long time.

Mr. Davis

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.

Ms. SAWYER

Patrick, you've represented this one as the second filing. Are we sure these are—

Mr. Davis

Second for the purpose of this interview, second one we're referencing.

Ms. SAWYER

Were these documents that were requested or obtained from a third party in the course of the investigation?

Mr. Davis

These were documents that were published in the media. I believe the second one was published by McClatchy.

Ms. SAWYER

And what about the first?

Mr. Davis

That was the one published by the Washington Times.


Mr. Davis

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.

Mr. Simpson

I'd say it's largely right.

Mr. Davis

Are there any that have been omitted?

Mr. Simpson

Maybe, yeah.

Mr. Levy

Just say what you know or recall.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

By broadcast network I assume you mean CNN is incorrect, it was a different network?

Mr. Simpson

I think so.

Mr. Davis

Do you recall which network it was?

Mr. Simpson

I think it was ABC.

Mr. Davis

Did you attend these meetings with Mr. Steele?

Mr. Simpson

Yeah. Yes.

Mr. Davis

Did any other Fusion associates attend?

Mr. Simpson

Possibly, yes.

Mr. Davis

Can you identify them?

Mr. Levy

We can give that to you afterwards.

Mr. Davis

Do you recall the specific dates of these meetings?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

I believe the filing says end of September 2016. Does that comport with your recollection?

Mr. Simpson

Yes.

Mr. Davis

Was this, as far as you know, before or after Mr. Steele had had his second meeting with the FBI?

Mr. Simpson

I don't remember. Sorry.

Mr. Davis

Did Mr. Steele ever indicate to you whether the FBI had asked him not to speak with the media?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Sorry. I didn't hear.

Mr. Simpson

He never said they told him he couldn't talk to them.

Mr. Davis

Do you recall which journalists you spoke to at each of these organizations and what information from the memoranda was revealed to each?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Can you tell us what those were?

Mr. Levy

The answer to that question goes to confidential conversations that's been declined to answer.

Mr. Foster

Sorry. Confidential what?

Mr. Levy

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.

Mr. Foster

What's the privilege?

Mr. Levy

First amendment, confidentiality.

Mr. Foster

Confidentiality agreement, contractual obligation, is that what you're talking about?

Mr. Levy

No. Just talking to confidential sources, First Amendment issue. We can discuss it later after the interview.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Was part of the purpose of your investigation to share information with journalists?

Mr. Simpson

I think that's a fair statement. To the extent—I mean, I'm sorry. Could you be clear. You mean the project overall?

Mr. Davis

Yes, investigating Mr. Trump and his associates.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Did your client instruct you to have these meetings?

Mr. Levy

The answer to that question might implicate privilege or obligations that we've set forth.

Mr. Davis

Do you have any reason to believe that Mr. Steele passed any information on to journalists without Fusion?

Mr. Simpson

Without me—you mean without me participating, without me authorizing it? Can you be more specific?

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Levy

Without Mr. Simpson physically present?

Mr. Davis

For physical meetings or via Skype, without him aware of them contemporaneously.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Jason may have already touched on this, but did Fusion disclose hard copies of the memoranda to any journalists?

Mr. Levy

The answer to that question might implicate privilege or obligations. So he's going to decline to answer that question.

Mr. Foster

Doesn't the filing say that they did not?

Mr. Levy

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.

Mr. Davis

Still with Exhibit 5 on page 2, the responses to 4 and 6. Here the attorneys for Orbis and Mr. Steele—

Mr. Levy

Where are you again?

Mr. Davis

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."

Mr. Simpson

Where are you? You're on page 2—okay. I see it now.

Mr. Davis

-- "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?

Mr. Levy

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.

Mr. Davis

Do you believe this filing is accurate in those paragraphs?

Mr. Levy

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. Davis

Mr. Simpson, do you believe that any confidentiality obligations regarding the memos did not extend to law enforcement and intelligence services?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

When?

Mr. Davis

At any time.

Mr. Levy

When you say "paying," what do you mean by that?

Mr. Davis

Providing money.

Mr. Levy

For a fee? Are you talking about reimbursements?

Mr. Davis

Fees or reimbursements in this context.

Mr. Simpson

We've learned that. We know that now. In fact, it was—

Mr. Levy

Learned what?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Did Mr. Steele discuss that with you at the time?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Foster

So prior to news reports to that effect? In other words, you learned it from him not from the news; is that right?

Mr. Levy

Wait. You asked two different questions. I'm trying to figure out which one you want him to answer.

Mr. Foster

The last one.

Mr. Levy

What was the last one?

Mr. Foster

You learned it from the news and not from him? Are you saying you learned it from him?

Mr. Levy

Learned what from him?

Mr. Foster

That he discussed with the FBI having the FBI pay Mr. Steele.

Mr. Simpson

I don't remember.

Mr. Levy

The witness is yawning. Let's take a break.

Mr. Muse

We will attribute that to fatigue as opposed to the questions.

Mr. Foster

Let's go off the record. It is 3:55.


Mr. Davis

We'll go back on the record. It's now 4:05. We'll continue with the questions.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Did you ever exchange any e-mails with them?

Mr. Simpson

We did not communicate with them by e-mail either.

Mr. Davis

Do you know any current or former FBI personnel?

Mr. Levy

As a general matter?

Mr. Davis

Yeah, as a general matter.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Were any of them consulted as part of this investigation?

Mr. Simpson

Not to my recollection.

Mr. Davis

Was the amount of Fusion's compensation in the Trump investigation dependent on the FBI initiating an investigation of Mr. Trump or his associates?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

Was the amount of Orbis's compensation dependent on the FBI initiating an investigation of Mr. Trump and his associates?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

I don't recall having done so, no.

Mr. Davis

If we could turn briefly back to Exhibits 4 and 5. I just want to reference two things.

Mr. Levy

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.

Mr. Davis

Sure. Understood. To be clear, we obviously were not referencing any disclosures to this committee as part of the committee's inquiry.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

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...

Mr. Levy

Why don't you walk them through.

Mr. Simpson

If you want to know the rest of the story, I'm happy to walk you through it.

Mr. Davis

Sure, we can do that.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

And after you met how did he—did you provide the memoranda to—

Mr. Levy

Sorry. Finish your question.

Mr. Davis

-- did you provide the memoranda to him?

Mr. Levy

The answer to that question might implicate privilege and other obligations. So he's going to decline to answer the question.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Did Mr. Steele describe anyone else being involved at the Halifax international security conference in this discussion?

Mr. Simpson

Not that I can recall.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

That's the first time I've received that information. So I don't have any knowledge.

Mr. Davis

And you haven't spoken with Mr. Akhmetshin about that, I assume?

Mr. Simpson

No.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Levy

Beyond what you've discussed?

Mr. Davis

Anyone we've left out.

Mr. Levy

The answer to that might implicate privilege or other obligations. So he's going to decline to answer the question.

Mr. Davis

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.

Mr. Simpson

I'm not sure I see how I could answer that question without getting into privileged areas.

Mr. Foster

Again, what privilege?

Mr. Levy

We can discuss it at the end. It's a voluntary interview. He's declining to answer that.

Mr. Davis

Did any Fusion employees communicate with any foreign governments or foreign intelligence agencies about the memoranda or the information contained therein?

Mr. Simpson

I don't believe so, certainly not knowingly.

Mr. Davis

Did you and Mr. Steele ever discuss any communications he had with foreign government officials about the information in the memoranda?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

Do you know who paid for Mr. Steele's trip to Rome to meet with the FBI?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Foster

I'm sorry. You're saying that Fusion did not pay for the trip?

Mr. Levy

Go ahead and answer the question.

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

To clarify, you were saying his interactions with the FBI were not part of your project?

Mr. Simpson

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.

Mr. Davis

But in your briefings with journalists you did reference his interactions—Mr. Steele's interactions with the FBI, correct?

Mr. Simpson

At some point that occurred, but I don't believe it occurred until very late in the process.

Mr. Davis

Can you estimate when in the process?

Mr. Simpson

It was probably the last few days before the election or immediately thereafter.

Mr. Davis

So the meetings in September that you referenced, you didn't reveal Mr. Steele passing on information to the FBI?

Mr. Levy

Can you repeat the question. Sorry.

Mr. Davis

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?

Mr. Simpson

I don't recall.

Mr. Davis

I think my hour is up.

Mr. Foster

Off the record at 4:21.