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Tipsheet

House Republican Takes Mueller To The Woodshed Over Trump Dossier And Fusion GPS

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Well, ex-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first round of testimony is over. The House Judiciary Committee is done, but the Intelligence Committee is about to start. So, we have to endure another couple hours of this circus. If Democrats were hoping to re-ignite this Russian collusion nonsense, they overreached. Mueller seemed aloof. He had trouble hearing. He forgot certain portions of the report. It was, as Fox News’ Chris Wallace aptly noted, a total disaster for Democrats. One area he stonewalled was the Trump dossier compiled by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele. It was a political opposition research project, funded by the Clinton campaign and used as key evidence in securing FISA spy warrant against former Trump campaign official Carter Page. 

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This document is the epicenter of the whole Russian collusion/interference circus. It’s the Holy Grail. And it was bullet-riddled by Mueller's report. It was already largely unverified. It was mostly viewed as trash. Mueller’s report only confirmed that, but the ex-special counsel decided he didn’t want to talk about Fusion GPS even though he cites it in his report, which he may or may not have written. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) aptly noted that if anti-Trump Russians were feeding Steele misinformation, isn’t that part of his purview? Mueller more than once said that this was outside of his mandate, which led to Gaetz taking him to the woodshed. He also touched upon what appears to be gross bias within the whole probe, notably fired and disgrace FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who reportedly signed off on the initial counterintelligence probe into Russian collusion when this was solely a bureau investigation, and “attorney number two,” who worked for Mueller and was later dismissed, though the former special counsel didn’t want to elaborate on that during the hearing either. 


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Circling back to the dossier, Mueller played dumb on Fusion GPS, who hired Steele after being contracted by the Clinton campaign to find dirt on Trump, which seems just too good to be true. Philip Klein at WeX wondered how was this possible (via Washington Examiner):

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One odd exchange came when Rep. Steve Chabot. R-Ohio, tried to bring up Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that was hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to dig up dirt on Trump, and ended up hiring British spy Christopher Steele to compile salacious and unverified information on Trump's ties to Russia.

[…]

Mueller, looking at a binder with a copy of the report, asked, "And you're on page 103?"

Chabot asked again, "When you talk about the firm that produced the Steele reporting. The name of the firm that produced that was Fusion GPS. Is that correct?"

Mueller responded, "I'm not familiar with that."

How is that even possible? It's one thing to argue that he isn't going to answer questions with reference to Fusion GPS (something he did in follow up questions, with the phrase "it's outside my purview"), but how on earth could he not be familiar with the firm that has played such a key role in the Russia story?

This is becoming one big in-kind contribution to the Trump re-elect campaign. Luckily, Attorney General William Barr is looking into the origins of the Russia investigation. Hopefully, this will be cleared up in due time.

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