It's not made up. It wasn't politically motivated. And it did not set out with the intention to smear Donald Trump.
That's what the co-founder of a research firm, Fusion GPS, told Congress about a dossier his firm produced during the presidential campaign. Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for 10 hours in August about research that was originally started by a conservative news site, and that Hillary Clinton's campaign paid for to continue. Ultimately, the dossier claimed that Trump's campaign colluded with Russia, something Trump has vigorously denied but also something neither special counsel Robert S. Mueller III nor Congress has ruled out.
Against a backdrop of Trump and Republicans claiming the dossier was politically motivated, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the transcript, without Republican support, on Tuesday.
The Fix skimmed most of the nearly 300 pages of the transcript to bring you the most politically notable nuggets and to note how they contradict what Trump and his supporters have been saying.
1. Researchers weren't expecting to find what they did: The research started as open-ended, but as they uncovered more about Trump's alleged connections to Russia, Simpson said, he and former British spy Christopher Steele, whom Simpson hired to do the research, made a decision to go to the FBI.
“The purpose of this was to see if we could learn more, generally speaking, about his business dealings in Russia. What came back was something very different and obviously more alarming,” Simpson said. “... To me this was like, you know, you're driving to work and you see something happen and you call 911,” he said in another part of the testimony.
How this contradicts Trump and his supporters: Trump has accused the firm of specifically setting out and colluding with Democrats and even the FBI to find something incriminating on him.
2. There may have been a whistleblower in the Trump campaign: This is the biggest headline from 10 hours of interviews. Simpson says Steele told him that the FBI had “other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source,” someone “inside the Trump organization.”
“It was someone like us who decided to pick up the phone and report something,” Simpson said. It's not clear who this person is. It's also possible that Simpson misspoke, confusing a whistleblower with an Australian diplomat who heard a Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, say he knew Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
How this contradicts Trump's side: Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump Jr. have all maintained in public comments and, for the latter two, in congressional testimony, that they did not collude, nor know anyone who colluded with Russia.
3. The FBI indicated it believed some of what was in the memos: After Steele and Simpson called the FBI to report that they had reason to believe the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia, Simpson said, the FBI asked Steele to share everything. A couple months after Steele gave the FBI a full briefing, the FBI said that it believed him, according to Simpson.
How this contradicts Trump's side: There's been a growing movement to suggest the dossier was merely a convenient tool that the FBI used to investigate the next president of the United States.
4. Some news events have corroborated the memo's findings: Simpson points out that Steele's memo alleged members of the Trump campaign were eager to hear information from Russia. A year later, Trump Jr. released emails suggesting as much, when he said, “If it's what you say I love it” to correspondence indicating that Russians had dirt on Clinton.
The dossier also identified former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page as a potential intermediary between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Washington Post reported in April that Page was wiretapped by the FBI during the campaign, suggesting it had reason to believe Page was in contact with the Russians while he worked for Trump.
How this contradicts Trump's side: Trump has repeatedly said everything in there is fake.
5. Steele, the former British spy, is a “Boy Scout”: That's how Simpson, who has a nearly decade-long working relationship with him, described the author of the dossier. It's one of the reasons he trusted Steele's information so much and agreed with Steele's expertise that they should contact the FBI with what they found.
Simpson pointed out that Steele was the lead Russia expert in British intelligence and said he “has a sterling reputation as a person who doesn't exaggerate, doesn't make things up, doesn't sell baloney.”
How this contradicts Trump's side: Republicans have tried to go after Steele as not trustworthy. Last week, two top Republican senators made public that they asked the Justice Department to investigate Steele for allegedly lying about how he disseminated the dossier. They don't go into more details, making their request odd, but the insinuation is out there: Steele is a liar. Don't believe him.
6. Fusion GPS is not funded by Democrats or Russia: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said from the podium that Fusion GPS is “Democratic-linked” and that it took money from the Russian government. Neither of those assertions is true, Simpson said.
“The allegation that we were working for the Russian government then or ever is simply not true. I don't know what to say. It's political rhetoric to call the dossier phony. The memos are field reports of real interviews that Chris's network conducted, and there's nothing phony about it. We can argue about what's prudent and what's not, but it's not a fabrication,” he said.
With regard to his company's political leanings, Simpson said: “We're not an appendage to the Democratic Party. We run a commercial business; we're all ex-journalists. We take clients from both sides of the aisle. We have a long history of that. I'm proud of that. I'm happy to say I have lots of Republican clients and friends.”