Senators Press Podesta And Other Democrats About Dossier-Related Contacts
Two Republican senators are pressing top Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC officials for details of any contacts they had with Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS employees, and several government officials regarding the infamous Trump dossier.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham sent letters this week to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, strategist Joel Benenson, and former DNC chairwomen Donna Brazile and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The letters ask for communications records involving top Obama administration officials as well as several previously undisclosed employees of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the dossier.
The letters also seek information regarding any communications with two longtime Clintonworld hatchet men — Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer.
In the letters, the two Republicans asked whether the Clinton campaign and DNC officials were aware of Christopher Steele’s investigation of Trump during the campaign and whether they received a copy of the former British spy’s memos.
Steele produced 17 memos from between June 20, 2016 and Dec. 13, 2016 containing various unverified allegations about Trump’s activities in Russia and about members of his campaign.
Fusion GPS had hired Steele as part of a $1 million project financed by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
The senators say they ultimately want to know whether the FBI and Justice Department disclosed accurate information about the dossier when the agencies applied for surveillance warrants against Trump associates under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
They also asked whether the campaign and DNC officials distributed the information to government officials, reporters, or lawmakers and whether they instructed anyone to initiate contact with the FBI.
The letters also contain a list of names of people who had or may have had contact with the dossier.
Included in the list are previously unreported Fusion GPS employees and other Clintonworld figures who have not been publicly linked to the dossier.
The letter seeks communications involving Fusion GPS and its founders, Glenn Simpson, Peter Fritsch and Tom Catan as well as several government officials — FBI agent Peter Strzok, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI general counsel James Baker, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and former CIA Director John Brennan.
Jason Felch and Neil King have worked for Fusion GPS, it has been previously reported. But the letter reveals the names of several other Fusion GPS employees and contractors — David Michaels, Taylor Sears, Patrick Corcoran, Laura Sego, Jay Bagwell and Erica Castro.
The Daily Caller has seen documents linking them to Fusion. Attempts to contact them have been unsuccessful.
The senators also want any communications involving Bruce and Nellie Ohr, the husband and wife who were thrust into the dossier saga last month because of their ties to Fusion GPS and Steele. Bruce Ohr, who until recently served as deputy assistant attorney general, had undisclosed meetings with Steele prior to the 2016 election and with Simpson just after.
Nellie Ohr is a Russia expert who worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS on the Trump research project.
The letter contains two other conspicuous names: Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer.
Blumenthal is the longtime Clinton friend known to have peddled dirt on the Clinton family’s political opponents over the years. Shearer is another longtime Clinton insider and Blumenthal associate who has reportedly been involved in several smear campaigns against Clinton opponents.
Reached by phone on Saturday, Shearer said he “had nothing to do with the dossier.”
“Don’t know it, read it in the paper,” he said.
Blumenthal has not responded to emailed requests for comment.
Podesta is the only political operative contacted by Grassley and Graham with a direct contact to the dossier. The New York Times reported that Podesta met with Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, after the dossier was published on Jan. 10, 2017. The pair met to compare notes about Russian meddling in the election as well as to discuss whether to continue investigating Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. (RELATED: Podesta Met With Fusion GPS Founder After Dossier Was Published)
That meeting has raised questions because Podesta told the Senate Intelligence Committee last year that he did not know who funded the dossier. Podesta was accompanied in that interview by Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign and DNC general counsel who made the decision to hire Fusion GPS.
Clinton campaign and DNC officials have repeatedly dodged questions about who on the campaign knew about the dossier and Steele’s work prior to its release. But some reporters have disclosed that Clinton campaign staffers and other Democrats passed around information contained in the salacious document.
Ken Dilanian, an NBC News reporter, said in an MSNBC documentary last month that operatives were spreading the dossier allegation that Trump used prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room in 2013. (RELATED: Reporter: Democrats ‘Were Peddling’ Salacious Dossier Claims To Reporters)
“People associated with the Democrats were peddling that story,” Dilanian said, adding that, “there really was no way you could prove it.”
Luke Harding, a journalist at The Guardian who recently wrote a book about the dossier, also reported that he was contacted by someone in the Clinton campaign about the prostitute allegation. (RELATED: Here Are Some Revelations From New Book About The Steele Dossier)
He wrote in his book: “In October an email written by a person in the Clinton camp reached my inbox. It set out some of the unproven allegations against Trump, including sex with prostitutes in Moscow. The email said the claims came from a source inside the FSB. This was not Steele’s work, but some of it echoes the dossier.”