Virtually all of the credibility of the so-called Trump dossier/ Steele dossier is now hanging on the hinges of Christopher Steele’s vaunted reputation as a former British intelligence agent who spied on Moscow and still maintains a network of sources inside the Kremlin reports The New York Post.
However, now there are reports that of newly released transcripts that Steele never even set foot inside Russia to compile the dossier, and that he relied instead on an ex-journalist-turned-p.r. consultant to do much of his investigating. Essentially, this p.r. consultant is, who isn’t an intelligence figure, may have been Steele’s main “Russian source” of information.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) asked Steele’s Clinton-paid handler Glenn Simpson, during the House Intelligence Committee’s Nov. 14 closed-door hearing, if Steele had gone “to Russia as part of this project,” to which Simpson replied, “No, sir.” Steele, at the time he compiled the dossier, hadn’t been back to Russia in 17 years.
So, Gowdy pressed, “How was he able to accumulate information in Russia if he didn’t go?” Simpson claimed that Steele ran a “network of sub-sources or subcontractors” who traveled around Russia and gathered information for him.
His name is Edward Baumgartner is the primary subcontractor who worked not for Steele but for Simpson at the Washington-based Fusion GPS and contributed the key material for the investigation into Trump.
Baumgartner is a British national who speaks fluent Russian and runs a p.r. shop out of London (and who spent 2016 tweeting his forceful opposition to Trump’s candidacy).
While Baumgartner was working on the dossier, he was also working for Simpson on another case to smear an anti-Putin whistleblower in an effort to help Putin-tied company Prevezon defend itself against US charges of money laundering.
While Baumgartner worked in Russia through October 2016, he worked closely in Moscow with the Russian lawyer who lobbied Donald Trump Jr. at a now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 to help life U.S. sanctions on Russia.
During the case, Simpson and Baumgartner also met with her partner, former Russian military intelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin. As the Prevezon case was winding down, Simpson said he assigned Baumgartner who shares his enmity toward Trump to help dig up dirt on him.
“I remember assigning him to do work in the summer or fall of 2016 on Michael Cohen’s business connections to Russia and Ukraine and his father-in-law’s background in Russia. And so he worked on both. And I think Edward might have also worked on some [Paul] Manafort stuff,’ said Simpson.”
The dossier accuses Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, and Manafort, his short-lived campaign chairman and also implied information on Carter Page, a volunteer Trump adviser.
In the dossier, Baumgartner is likely the unnamed “friend” or “close colleague” of the alleged Russian insider sources, who were led to believe “confided” in that “mutual friend” who we’re told, in turn, communicated directly to Steele the unproven rumors about Cohen, Manafort, and Page.
Simpson said that he could not verify any of Steele’s “Sources in Russia” because he’s never been to Russia himself and couldn’t “evaluate the credibility of someone on the other side of the [Atlantic].” Nor could he confirm that Steele actually spoke directly with any of his Russian sources.
Essentially, Simpson trusts this guy because of his “sterling reputation.” He believed this guy to be a real-life 007 and didn’t feel the need to corroborate this information that has the potential to send multiple people to jail.
These latest revelations make it all the more baffling that the FBI took Steele so seriously. They also suggest the public should not make that mistake.