Mon 14 Oct 2019
The former journalists Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch are to publish a book on Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, including an account of how they commissioned the British ex-spy Christopher Steele to write his dossier on the future president.
Crime in Progress: The Secret History of the Trump-Russia Investigation will be published in December by Penguin Random House in the US and UK.
Simpson and Fritsch founded the Washington intelligence firm Fusion GPS. In summer 2015, it began investigating Trump and Moscow. It hired Steele the following spring, as a contractor.Advertisement
Steele’s contacts reported that the Kremlin had been cultivating Trump for at least five years, and had launched a major and multi-layered espionage operation to help him defeat Hillary Clinton. Steele’s dossier said the Russians held compromising material on Trump, and had spied on him in 2013, in a Moscow hotel together with two prostitutes.
Trump denies the claim and has repeatedly attacked Steele and called the dossier “phoney”.
Simpson and Fritsch began their investigation into Trump for a rival Republican candidate. In 2016, the Democrats took over the contract. The authors previously worked for the Wall Street Journal, where they covered Russian organised crime.
The book describes how their Trump investigation turned into a major political scandal. Their research was “a march through a mind-boggling trove of lawsuits, bankruptcies and sketchy overseas projects”, publisher Penguin says.
It is understood the book does not identify the human sources behind the dossier. It does argue that Steele’s memos – which were passed to the FBI, which briefed President Obama and Trump – were substantially correct.Advertisement
The inquiry led by special counsel Robert Mueller confirmed widespread Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, links between Trump and Moscow and instances of attempted obstruction of justice by Trump.
Thus far, Simpson and Fritsch have avoided talking publicly about their work. In 2017, Simpson testified to Congress in a closed-door hearing, with the transcript made public later. Fusion GPS is battling a lawsuit filed by Alfa Bank, which is cited in Steele’s dossier. Alfa denies wrongdoing.
“It feels like time to explain our work in our own words,” Fritsch said. “We were witnessing what we thought was a crime in progress that needed to be investigated.”
He added: “I think we give a pretty careful exegesis of the [Steele] dossier, what is in it and what has been substantiated. We conclude it’s a pretty prescient document.”
Simpson and Fritsch deny claims that they are partisan or have a political grudge against Trump. The authors finished writing in September, as Trump was embroiled in a scandal over claims he urged Ukraine’s president to dig up dirt on his Democratic rival Joe Biden, which has given rise to a formal impeachment inquiry.
The former journalists are critical of the US attorney general, William Barr. They also give short shrift to conspiracy theories promulgated by Rudi Giuliani, the former New York mayor who is commonly described as the president’s personal lawyer. These include claims it was Ukraine rather than Russia that interfered in the 2016 vote, to boost Clinton.Advertisement
Mueller’s report earlier this year was a disappointment, the authors say. The former FBI director found multiple contacts between Trump officials and Moscow but did not establish a criminal-level conspiracy. Mueller did not rule on collusion, saying it was not a legal term.
Laura Stickney, publishing director at Penguin Press, said: “This is the Trump book we have been waiting for. All the President’s Men for the 21st century. Simpson and Fritsch have finally broken their silence about their four-year battle to find and expose the truth.
Source: the Guardian