Meet the Russia specialist who worked on 2 of Fusion GPS’ most controversial projects

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes his annual New Year address to the nation in Moscow, Russia December 31, 2017.  Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

Sen. Dianne Feinstein unilaterally released the Senate Judiciary Committee’s interview with the cofounder of Fusion GPS this week.
It introduced a new name into the Russia investigation: Edward Baumgartner.
Baumgartner worked with Fusion on two projects that have garnered high-profile attention in recent months.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s unilateral release of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s August interview with Fusion GPS cofounder Glenn Simpson was applauded by those who called it a win for transparency — and a nail in the coffin of GOP lawmakers’ attempts to distract from the probe into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Others, however, viewed the content of Simpson’s testimony as validation of a talking point often repeated by President Donald Trump and his allies in the media and Congress: Fusion GPS was working both for the Russians and against Trump — albeit on separate projects — during the 2016 election.

The accusation lacks the necessary nuance — Fusion was working for an American law firm, Baker Hostetler, that had been hired by a Russian holding company, Prevezon, as part of a money laundering case in New York’s Southern District court.

Baker Hostetler hired Fusion to look into the wealthy investor Bill Browder, who had told the Justice Department that Prevezon was implicated in a $230 million tax fraud scheme that was uncovered by Browder’s tax attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, in 2008. The research Fusion did on Browder made it back to Baker and, inevitably, to Prevezon’s Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.

In late 2015, Fusion was hired by the Republican megadonor Paul Singer to work on an entirely separate project: opposition research on Trump. That research, according to Simpson’s testimony, was done using open-source information and covered a wide range of subjects, including the Trump family’s reported use of sweat shops in Asia and South America to produce Trump-branded merchandise.

Christopher Steele, the former British spy who had spent decades on the Moscow desk at the UK’s foreign intelligence service MI6, was not the only subcontractor Fusion hired to research Trump, Simpson said. But his research on Trump’s Russia ties, conducted between June through December 2016, was arguably the most explosive.

Once the timeline of Fusion’s projects had been established, Senate investigators asked Simpson whether any of Fusion’s employees or subcontractors worked on both the Prevezon and Steele projects.

Enter: Edward Baumgartner

Simpson told investigators that Edward Baumgartner, who has a degree in Russian language and runs his own consulting firm similar to Fusion (but with a focus on Russia and Ukraine) worked on both projects.

Simpson said he had been impressed by Baumgartner’s “knowledge of the region and his general abilities,” which, for Fusion and Baker Hostetler, mostly involved discovery — gathering Russian language documents, reading media reports, and interviewing witnesses who speak Russian.

“I don’t speak Russian, I’ve never been to Russia,” Simpson said. “So it would be ordinary course of business for me to identify a specialist who could supply me with that kind of specialized expertise.”

Baumgartner, who cofounded …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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