At the heart of the seemingly endless investigation into alleged collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian officials lie two questions. Both of those questions relate to why and how the FBI opened its investigation in the first place and then obtained a warrant to surveil a Trump campaign advisor. The research firm Fusion GPS plays a central role in the answers, making Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson the star witness in a series of congressional hearings on the matter. In refusing to co-operate with Congress, Simpson has cemented the suspicion that his company and the FBI itself were co-conspirators in a plot to subvert the outcome of the 2016 election.
The very idea that someone called to testify before a congressional committee can invoke the Fifth Amendment is, in itself, preposterous. More outrageous still is the notion, promoted by congressional Democrats and their media minions, that Republicans are somehow abusing their power by conducting oversight of the Justice Department (DoJ). The Democrats’ position – shared, it seems, by the DoJ – is that, while the FBI can investigate the opposing party’s presidential candidate based on little more than hearsay, Congress has no right to demand answers from the DoJ as to why the investigation was opened.
No Discernable Accountability
That investigation has since morphed into the ongoing special counsel probe. Robert Mueller’s team of hot-shot attornies – all Democratic Party donors – continues its secretive operation with no apparent budget constraints, no discernable accountability, no defined parameters, and – apparently – the authorization to continue until something is found that can be used to remove from office the duly-elected president.
In light of those facts, then, it would seem only reasonable, if not absolutely essential, that Congress be furnished with information sufficient to satisfy all its members that the investigation itself was based on solid, non-partisan evidence that a crime or other serious misdeeds had been committed.
That is where Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson come in: It was Fusion that received payment from then-candidate Trump’s GOP opponents to produce opposition research to be used against him. When that partnership was terminated, Hillary Clinton’s campaign stepped in, commissioning Fusion to continue the research for the benefit of the Democratic presidential hopeful. Thus, the collection of fanciful stories commonly known as the Trump dossier – or Steele dossier, named for its creator – was born.
The collection of fanciful stories commonly known as the Trump dossier – or Steele dossier, named for its creator – was born.
Former British spy Christopher Steele handed a copy of the dossier to his paymaster, Glenn Simpson, and that’s where the story gets a little murky. Simpson’s testimony is key to untangling the lines of communication between his firm, the DoJ, and the FBI. Ultimately, the chain of custody, as it were, of the dossier is a crucial factor. Clearly, this uncorroborated opposition research found its way to the FBI and to the media. Simpson had a hand in both. That he would even feel the need to withhold testimony from Congress does nothing but pour gasoline on the fires of suspicion surrounding this whole affair.
Simpson has already provided some answers to congressional Republicans, so it’s not like he refused to provide any information; it is that what information he has already provided does not line up well with information provided by other sources. His intended hearing, then, is largely about verification. Dishonesty is a tricky business, though; one must keep track of the threads one spins and remember which are true and which are not. Simpson has begun to realize, perhaps, that there are too many threads – spun by himself and others – and he is no longer able to recreate the ones he needs to keep himself out of prison.
Misusing the Fifth
For the sake of a little “whataboutism,” consider the Democrat argument in the Brett Kavanaugh affair. When accused of not allowing the now Supreme Court associate justice the presumption of innocence, Democrats would counter with the reminder that Kavanaugh was not facing criminal proceedings and, therefore, the cries of “innocent until proven guilty” were irrelevant.
the cries of “innocent until proven guilty” were irrelevant.
Well, such is the case with the Fifth Amendment: “nor shall [any person] be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, …” Testifying before Congress does not constitute participating in a criminal case. Thus, attempting to invoke a Fifth Amendment right is entirely inappropriate.
As Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) put it: “You can’t just invoke the fifth in order to avoid questions before Congress.”
It has long been accepted that persons summoned to provide testimony to Congress can plead the Fifth and refuse to answer questions. That acceptance is a perversion of the Constitution, designed primarily to allow government officials – both elected and unelected – to avoid accountability. In Simpson’s case, it is nothing less than obstruction of justice, for justice is, indeed, what congressional Republicans are seeking – and are allowed to seek, in their lawful capacity as overseers of the Justice Department.
The question that has for so long haunted the entire Russia collusion investigation is this: If none of the architects of the investigation, none of those with whom those architects consulted or from whom they received information, and none of those currently continuing the investigation are ever called to account, are we not living in a police state, administered by unelected bureaucrats who operate with total impunity?