Suspicious Travel, Money Laundering, and Mafia Ties

News  |  Jan 19, 2018

Just like we did with Fusion GPS cofounder Glenn Simpson's Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, we've read the full transcript of his House Intelligence Committee testimony and pulled out the most interesting and important parts.

Page numbers from the November 14, 2017 transcript are included for reference. 

Page 7  On who hired Fusion GPS:

MR. GOWDY: Were you hired by a person or entity in either 2015 or 2016 to do research into then-candidate Donald Trump?

MR. SIMPSON: Yes, we were. We were hired around October, September-October of 2015.

MR. GOWDY: By whom?

MR. SIMPSON: The Free Beacon has been publicly stated as the client or identified to the committee as the client, and I can confirm that.

Page 7  On what The Free Beacon asked Fusion GPS to do and how the firm operates:

I think I can speak more broadly and say that it was an open-ended look at Donald Trump's business career and his litigation history and his relationships with questionable people, how much he was really worth, how he ran his casinos, what kind of performance he had in other lines of work.

It was a very broad unfocused look, which is the way we do our business.

Essentially, we don't usually allow clients to tell us what to look at and what not to look at, because we don't think that's a smart way of trying to understand a subject. So, generally speaking, we just do an open-ended look at everything we can find.

So it starts with literature review. We obtain all the books we can on a subject and order them all, you know, used from Amazon, and all the newspaper articles, all the court records, all the public records you can lay your hands on.

And only after you've digested all that information do you start to figure out, you know, where to focus your inquiries.


We - my firm is -- all the principals are former journalists, so we don't come out of the political combat industry. We come out of the, you know, journalism industry, which is all about sort of sticking to the facts and not leaping to conclusions and not trying to, you know, come up with a hit piece on anybody. So, generally speaking, you know, what we get compensated for is producing reliable treatments of whatever the subject is.

And I should just add, I mean, it doesn't - it doesn't help us or our clients if we only look for negative information. What the clients want is all the information. And so, you know, someone -- if you're in a campaign and the, you know, other side is a businessman and you're reviewing his career, it's important information whether he's a good businessman or bad businessman. And you don't want your client trying to make an issue of his business career if he's a brilliant businessman who knows how to make money in an honest and ethical way.

Page 11  On why The Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS:

MR. GOWDY: If I understood your testimony correctly, you don't specialize in political opposition research?

MR. SIMPSON: It's not a major line of business for us. It's, you know, every couple of years, 3, 4, when there's a Presidential campaign we get asked to do stuff. We sometimes get asked to do stuff in California initiatives and other things.

Generally speaking, the market niche that we occupy is not the opposition research niche. I don't think our pricing structure is conducive to getting opposition research business, which is -- generally doesn't pay very well.

MR. GOWDY: Well, given that and given the fact that it's not your niche, why did the Washington Free Beacon approach you about doing the research on candidate Trump?

MR. SIMPSON: Well, one of our, you know, specialties that l think people know is that we are good at business investigations, corporate investigations, and Mr. Trump is a big businessman.

So I can't get into exactly sort of what was said, but - and, in fact, I don't think I even remember, you know, if l had that kind of information. But I think it's reasonable to interpret that it was because we have a background doing business investigation.

Page 21  On Fusion GPS' second client on the Trump project:

MR. SIMPSON: And I'm -- I don't know what to tell you other than that I was generally aware that Perkins Coie represented the DNC.

MR. GOWDY: Okay. So how did your work for Perkins Coie begin?

MR. SIMPSON: My recollection is we began to review what we had learned over the previous months and talk about what we would do, you know, now that we would have resources to pursue this - some of these matters further.

... so the things that we started looking at specifically were a lot of Mr. Trump's overseas business deals, his history with regard to tax disputes. We were very interested in things like his clothing line and where his -- you know, he -- I can't remember exactly when this came up, but we gradually figured out that he -- while he was running on a platform of economic nationalism that he's outsourced his clothing line to developing countries. So we were interested in the labor practices around his factories.

You know, we had gradually accumulated more and more things about his bankruptcies. And we had gotten a better sense of who his business partners were. So those were issues. So we sort of-- when we reached an agreement about, you know, funding and we thought we would have funding to do a bunch of things, we began to look for people who could help us pursue some of these things. And l guess that's a general description of what we began to do.


... I'd say, in general, we were the architects of the research and we made most of the decisions about what to look for and where to look.

Page 23  On how Simpson came to know and work with Christopher Steele:

I left the Wall Street Journal in 2009. And. in my last few years at the Wall Street Journal, I had been living in Belgium, in Brussels, and had developed a line of reporting around the former Soviet Union and crime and corruption in the former Soviet Union.


And in any event, when I decided to leave the Journal in 2009, I had developed a lot of relationships with people who worked on organized crime issues, Russian organized crime issues, and had become known as someone who specialized in that. And a mutual acquaintance of ours suggested that - Chris had just left the British Government, and a mutual acquaintance of ours suggested that we might be able to work together or at least, you know, had a lot in common.


And so there were very few people at that time who were interested in this issue, and so the small number of us tended to meet at conferences and that sort of thing. So over time, Chris and I would have coffee together when I was in London or he was in Washington, and we would talk about various Russian corruption issues, organized crime, oligarchs.


MR. GOWDY: How did he come to work on this project?

MR. SIMPSON: As I said, I mean, we've done other things together. And over - well, at the very beginning of this project, one of the very first things that I focused on was Donald Trump's relationship with a convicted racketeer named Felix Sater, and who was alleged to have an organized crime, Russian organized crime background.

And over the course of the first phase of this or the first project, we developed a lot of additional information suggesting that the company that Donald Trump had been associated with and Felix Sater, Bayrock, was engaged in illicit financial business activity and had organized crime connections.

We also had sort of more broadly learned that Mr. Trump had long time associations with Italian organized crime figures. And as we pieced together the early years of his biography, it seemed as if during the early part of his career he had connections to a lot of Italian mafia figures, and then gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures.

And so all of that had developed by the spring of 2016 to the point where it was not a speculative piece of research; it was pretty well-established. And Mr. Trump had, quite memorably, attempted to downplay his relationship with Mr. Sater in ways that I found, frankly, suspicious and not credible. Saying he wouldn't recognize him on the street, but there were pictures of them together.

And the other people around Bayrock were also from the former Soviet Union and also had associations suggestive of possible organized crime ties. One of them is a guy named Tevfik Arif, A-r-i-f, who it turned out his real name was Tofik Arifov, and that he was an alleged organized crime figure from the central Asia.

So there was all that. And then, you know, we also increasingly saw that Mr. Trump's business career had evolved over the prior decade into a lot of projects in overseas places, particularly in the former Soviet Union, that we re very opaque, and that he had made a number of trips to Russia, but said he'd never done a business deal there. And I found that mysterious.

And so I had the perfect person to go see if they could figure out what was going on there. And so that's how I decided to ask Chris if he could look into it for me.

Page 28  On the credibility of Steele's work:

MR. GOWDY: Can you give me an example of something that he produced to you that you found to be not credible?

MR. SIMPSON: No, I don't think anything comes to mind.


But what we did do is look at names and places and people and whether they matched up with information we could get elsewhere. And all of that, as far as it went, checked out. I haven't seen anything that has contradicted anything in the memos to date, at least not that I can think of.

MR. GOWDY: Well, that's a very different standard. You haven't seen anything to contradict it, whereas my question was, what did you have that corroborates it? How were you able to assess the accuracy of the information, the underlying information he provided you?

MR. SIMPSON: I'm sorry, I thought you asked me whether there was anything in there that I found to be wrong.

MR. GOWDY: I did.

MR. SIMPSON: I haven't found anything to be wrong. If you'd like me to get into more of the corroboration, I can do that.

Page 34  On Felix Sater:

MR. SCHIFF: During the time that you were doing work for Free Beacon, you had mentioned some work in the first phase. You had discovered business relationships with Felix Sater and Bayrock. By first phase, do you mean while you were doing work for Free Beacon?

MR. SIMPSON: It was one of the first things we found. And I should emphasize, it was, you know -- originally I saw it in the New York Times article, so it wasn't a great investigative discovery. But then when I read into it and I found depositions in which he was, you know, more than evasive about the relationship, that's when I got really interested.

Page 35  On Paul Manafort:

And lots of other issues came up during the primaries that raised concerns in my mind about whether there might be connections -- Donald Trump might have unexplained connections to Russia or people involved in that part of the world.

I mean, among other things, eventually Paul Manafort was appointed to his campaign as the -- first the convention manager and then the chairman -- or the campaign manager. And I knew a lot about Paul Manafort from my career at The Wall Street Journal. I had written a number of stories about his involvement with Oleg Deripaska and the pro-Russia party in Ukraine and another oligarch named Firtash. And I had even written a story about whether he should have registered as a foreign agent.

All that had occurred years earlier. So when he suddenly surfaced, I was, you know, struck by that.

Page 37  On Russian money laundering:

MR. SIMPSON: I guess the general thing I would say is that, you know; the Russians are far more sophisticated in their criminal organized crime activities than the Italians, and they're a lot more global. They understand finance a lot better. And so they tend to use quite elaborate methods to move money.


I can tell you also that the Russians are much more integrated in the way they operate with the political -- the sort of legitimate business structures. So you don't find too many Italian mafia guys who are major shareholders in big media companies, but you definitely can find Russian mafia guys who are big shareholders in international media companies.

So the only way that -- well, the thing that comes to mind, of course, is the real estate deals. And, you know, it did come to our attention during this, you know, first round or this first part of the project that there were a lot of real estate deals where you couldn't really tell who was buying the property. And sometimes properties would be bought and sold, and they would be bought for one price and sold for a loss shortly thereafter, and it didn't really make sense to us.


MR. SCHIFF: Did you find evidence of that with respect to Mr. Trump?

MR. SIMPSON: I think a lot of what we found is subsequently - there have been similar articles published. "Evidence," I think, is a strong word. I think we saw patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money laundering.

MR. SCHIFF: And, in this case, what facts came to your attention that concerned you that the buying and selling of properties - the buying and selling of Trump properties might indicate money laundering?

MR. SIMPSON: There was -- well, for one thing, there was various criminals were buying the properties. So there was a gangster -- a Russian gangster living in Trump Tower.

MR. SCHIFF: Who was that?

MR. SIMPSON: His gangster name is Taiwanchik. I couldn't spell his actual name. But, you know, I mean, these are the kind of things that prompted us to hire Mr. Steele. We had a gangster named Taiwanchik living in Trump Tower who had been under-- I'm sorry, he was --I think he was running a -- his associates were living in Trump Tower, ·and he was running a high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower, while he himself was a fugitive for having rigged the skating competition at the Salt Lake Olympics and a bunch of other sporting events engaged in rigging.

And when Mr. Trump went to the Miss Universe pageant in 2013, Taiwanchik was there in the VIP section with Mr. Trump and lots of other Kremlin biggies. So that kind of thing raised questions with us.

Page 39  On Donald Trump's international real estate projects: 

MR. SIMPSON: Well, I mean, some of the things that we have -- that we looked at that we thought were very concerning are existing investments in projects, and specifically a project in Panama, the one in Toronto. Those both got a lot of fraud associated with them, a lot of fraud allegations, a lot of activity that I would say smacks of fraud, and a lot of Russian mafia figures listed as buyers who may or may not have actually put money into it.

And so there's a couple of - so a couple of the big condo tower deals offshore, outside the United States, I think both of those are in bankruptcy now, Mr. Trump is no longer associated with them.

The other one that is -- was concerning to us was - is the golf courses in Scotland and Ireland.

MR. SCHIFF: And did you see Russian money involved with those as well?

MR. SIMPSON: Well, we had -- you know, we saw what Eric Trump said about Russian money being available for his golf -- for the golf course projects, making remarks about having unlimited sums available. And, you know, because Mr. Trump's companies are generally not publicly traded and don't do a lot of public disclosure, we can only look -- have a limited look into the financing of those projects.

But because the Irish courses and the Scottish courses are under U.K., you know, Anglo corporate law, they have -- they file financial statements. So we were able to get the financial statements. And they don't, on their face, show Russian involvement, but what they do show is enormous amounts of capital flowing into these projects from unknown sources and - or at least on paper it says it's from The Trump Organization, but it's hundreds of millions of dollars.

And these golf course are just, you know, they're sinks. They don't actually make any money.

So, you know, if you're familiar with Donald Trump's finances and the litigation over whether he's really a billionaire, you know, there's good reason to believe he doesn't have enough money to do this and that he would have had to

Page 41  On how the Russian mafia is connected to Vladimir Putin:

MR. SIMPSON: Well, so what is well known and well established in criminology now is that the Russian mafia is essentially under the dominion of the Russian Government and Russian Intelligence Services. And many of the oligarchs are also mafia figures.

And the oligarchs, during this period of consolidation of power by Vladimir Putin, when I was living in Brussels and doing all this work, was about him essentially taking control over both the oligarchs and the mafia groups.

And so basically everyone in Russia works for Putin now. And that's true of the diaspora as well. So the Russian mafia in the United States is believed by law enforcement criminologists to have -- to be under the influence of the Russian security services. And this is convenient for the security services because it gives them a level of deniability.

So I'm sorry for the long answer, but essentially, if people who seem to be associated with the Russian mafia are buying Trump properties or arranging for other people to buy Trump properties, it does raise a question about whether they're doing it on behalf of the government.

Page 42  On how Trump could be blackmailed:

MR. SCHIFF: Might that provide the Russian Government leverage vis-a-vis now-President Trump?


MR. SCHIFF: So if, as the President's son boasted some years ago, they were getting lots of financing from Russia and that financing were illicit, that would be known to the Kremlin.

MR. SIMPSON: I think-- I mean, yes, I think that's true. I think we had more specific reporting than that from Chris, and I think it's credible.

Page 44  On Trump vodka:

MR. SIMPSON: That it seemed like there was an orchestrated effort by someone to help Trump out with - to help him market, you know, these branded products in Russia, and that it was -- it was just very mysterious. And then we later found some of the people who came up after the first Steele memo were involved in some of those efforts.

MR. SCHIFF: And what were the contacts that later emerged in the Steele work?

MR. SIMPSON: Well, one of the guys who organized this trip was a guy who's currently known as Sergi Millian. And he's been in the press a good bit, I think, although not recently. And, you know, he came up in connection with that, and then he came up in connection with Chris' work as one of the people around Trump who had a Russian background, and unexplained, you know, a lot of unexplained things.

So when we looked at him, we found that he ran a sort of shadowy kind of trade group called the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, which is -- Russians are known to use chambers of commerce and trade groups as fronts for intelligence operations.


And as time went on, yeah, we found other things about him. We found a picture of him with Donald Trump. He boasted to people that he had sold hundreds of millions of dollars in Trump condos, Trump real estate to Russians, that he was some kind of exclusive agent for Trump in Russia and that he organized this trade fair.

·And then, you know, as further time went on, we found he was connected to Michael Cohen, the President's lawyer. And eventually, after boasting about a lot of this stuff on camera, on tape, to the TV network, he backed away from all of it suddenly when the Russia controversy began to get hot.

And Michael Cohen was very adamant that he didn't actually have a connection to Sergi, even though he was one of only like 100 people who followed Sergi on Twitter. And they -- we had Twitter messages back and forth between the two of them just --we just pulled them off of Twitter.

Page 46  On Michael Cohen:

MR. SIMPSON: Well, eventually, partly through Sergi Millian, partly through other things we learned, we gradually began to understand more about Michael Cohen, the President's lawyer, and his background, and that he had a lot of connections to the former Soviet Union, and that he seemed to have associations with organized crime figures in New York and Florida, Russian organized crime figures.


So Mr. Cohen had a very different image for much of the campaign as a - simply a sort of pugnacious New York lawyer, and we gradually began to see that he was, you know -- people told us he spoke Russian. And his father-in-law is from Ukraine. He seems to have a lot of business dealings over there and, in fact, has a conviction for a money laundering-related crime.


I could generalize and say that, you know, as we've got deeper and deeper into understanding, you know, Donald Trump's business career and his history, it gradually reached a point where it seemed like most of the people around Trump had a connection to Russian organized crime or Russia in one way or another.

Page 83  

Mr. SWALWELL: But just on Michael Cohen, and I'll turn it back over to our staff. Did you ever research whether Michael Cohen had any aliases or other names that he used? Did you ever find anything out about that?

MR. SIMPSON: A little bit. The possibility that he had two passports or used a different fom1ulation of his name was something -- I can't remember - we asked around about or thought about trying to get information on, but ultimately did not.

MR. SWALWELL: Did you ever come across the name Michael Cohn, C-o-h-n, with links, common addresses but different social security numbers?

MR. SIMPSON: I think my staff probably did come across stuff like that, but we didn't make much of it. It looked like a typo.

Page 48  On Aras and Emin Agalarov

MR. SCHIFF: And knowing what you do about the Agalarovs, what do you think is the significance of the fact that the -- that Aras Agalarov was responsible, at least according to these public emails, for setting up the meeting at Trump Tower?

MR. SIMPSON: I think it's a reasonable interpretation that that was a Russian Government-directed operation of some sort, based on what I know now.

Page 59  On how and why Simpson and Steele briefed the media:

MR. ROONEY: Okay. Did you direct Steele to brief the media outlets, and why?

MR. SIMPSON: Yeah. We did it together. Initially, the reason was that we were -- everyone assumed that Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and when we initially briefed the media, that was our assumption.

And I have a sort of different longstanding interest, which is Russian influence in the United States and foreign interference in elections. And, I mean, this may sound hard to believe, but I wanted people to know about what we had found, because I thought it was important. And so a lot of the people that we briefed weren't campaign reporters, they were national security reporters.

Page 60  On Steele contacting the FBI: 

He said: I'm a former intelligence officer, and we're your closest ally. You know, I have obligations, professional obligations. If there's a national security emergency or possible national security issue, I should report it.


And I said: So you're telling me that you think this is serious enough that it needs to be reported to law enforcement, and that you're confident enough in your sources, it's your professional judgment and your professional obligation, that you should report this to the FBI? And he said yes.

Page 79  On Simpson's connection to DOJ official Bruce Ohr:

The context of this is that it was after the election. A very surprising thing had happened, which is that Donald Trump had won. There was -- we were -- by that time, we were enormously concerned about rapidly accumulating indications that the Russian Government had mounted a massive attack on the American election system and that, you know, Donald Trump or his associates might have been involved.

And there was a lot of alarming things happening, including Donald Trump saying things about Vladimir Putin that didn't really make any sense, weren't ordinary things for a Republican to say, and, you know-- anyway. .

So we had also by this time given this information to the FBI, and they had, you know, told - indicated to Chris that they were investigating it, and then told - apparently told The New York Times they weren't.

And so it was not clear to us whether anyone at a high level of government was aware of the information that Chris had gathered and provided to the FBI. And, you know, so we were, frankly, you know, very scared for the country and for ourselves and felt that if we could give it to someone else, we should, higher up.

And so Chris suggested I give some information to Bruce, give him the background to all this. And we eventually met at a coffee shop, and I told him the story.

Page 95  On how Russian money could have been used to help Trump overcome credit issues:

One of the things that we now know about how the condo projects were financed is that you have to -- you can get credit if you can show that you've sold a certain number of units.

So it turns out that, you know, one of the most important things to look at is -- this is especially true of the early overseas developments, like Toronto and Panama -- you can get credit if you can show that you sold a certain percentage of your units.

And so the real trick is to get people who say they've bought those units, and that's where the Russians are to be found, is in some of those pre-sales, is what they're called. And that's how, for instance, in Panama they got the credit - they got a - Bear Steams to issue a bond by telling Bear Stearns that they'd sold a bunch of units to a bunch of Russian gangsters.

And, of course, they didn't put that in the underwriting information, they just said, we've sold a bunch of units and here's who bought them, and that's how they got the credit. So that's sort of an example of the alternative financing.

Now, the other way that he got financing was by not being an equity partner in the project, finding an equity partner and offering, you know, licensing or marketing arrangement where, you know, he was the, you know, the brand.

Page 109  On the FBI telling the media it wasn’t investigating Donald Trump during the campaign:

Well, what I thought was appropriate was for -- to give the press enough information so that they could go to the FBI and ask them if both candidates were under investigation. So what we more specifically did was, you know, we told them that, you know, we had given this information to the FBI and that, you know, we thought the FBI was probably investigating, and that they should ask the FBI if, in fact, they were investigating. And so they did. So the FBI, it appears, told them they weren't investigating.


Q And was the purpose or intent of the exposure to potentially affect the outcome of the election?

A: It was to expose a sinister plot by Vladimir Putin, a hostile foreign power, to attempt to alter the outcome of an American Presidential election. And that was the goal. You know, and again, I mean, basically our behavior after the election was of the same basic character. At some point, it became about blowing the whistle on this. And I would say that was the point at which it was a lot bigger issue. And as an ex-journalist, I still have a little bit of that in my blood, and I wanted to expose it for the sake of letting people know what's going on.

Page 112  On whether there is anything else the Committee should be investigating that it may not be already:

MR. SIMPSON: So I guess the first one that I think that we haven't covered at all, would be the Center for the National Interest and the people involved in the Center for the National Interest. And among other things - well, importantly Dimitri Simes is known in the Russian expat community as a suspected Russian agent. And I believe he is known to the FBI as a suspected Russian agent. And I think that you could develop more information in that area from talking to Russian intelligence defectors and people who come to this country and have been given refuge from Russian intelligence.

There are a number of Russian defectors who, I think, maybe could speak to that. I think there are some records around that might reflect some of that. And I think that is -- given their fundamental role in creating the Trump foreign policy, I think that is a really important area. I think talking to Russian intelligence defectors in general about what they think was going on and what they've heard is probably a useful thing to do.

I think that the origins of the Manafort-Stone-Trump relationship is an interesting area. I have looked, spent a lot of time looking last year at Roger Stone


And, so, I think that is an important area. That is one of the -- you know, we've picked up that Hungary is inside the EU, and it's essentially -- you know, [pro-Russian prime minister Victor] Orban is essentially a Putin puppet and the GRU has a big station there, and there is a lot of unexplained travel by various people. And we have heard a lot of rumors about that, and a lot of allegations since beginning of last year.


MR. SIMPSON: Well, it was our information that [Sebastian] Gorka had been there about three times. At least two of those he tried to keep low profile. I am told J.D. Gordon did, but I don't know -- I just don't know whether that is reliable. I guess this is transitioning into another area, if you are interested in looking at things, is, you know, the European travel of certain people. And I would include Jared and lvanka in that.

Page 114  On suspicious travel records:

But there is a specific sequence of events that has intrigued us for a long time, where Cohen and lvanka and Jared and Trump, and I can't remember whether Manafort's in this mix too, are all in the Hamptons area in August, and Dmitry Rybolovlev's plane is somewhere nearby, and flies to Nice. And then most of these guys sort of come off -- fall off the radar and then, you know, I think it's the 12th of August, Rybolovlev's plane lands in Dubrovnik, and Jared and lvanka surface in Dubrovnik. And I don't know how they got there or whether they got there on his plane.

But those are things I have been interested in for a long time. The plane, you know, we have been told that Rybolovlev's boat was also nearby. There were all these other yachts nearby and that, you know, there had been rumors of meetings between Trump people and Russians on yachts off Dubrovnik.' And the Rybolovlev jet then flies to Budapest from Dubrovnik. And I can't tell you whether it's meaningful or not, but there are certainly things I was interested in and still find unanswered and intriguing. I guess the same would -- again, I don't know what Mr. Cohen has told you, but his public statements about his whereabouts I found unsatisfying.

Page 115  MR. SCHIFF: And what other issues do you recommend that we look at?

MR. SIMPSON: I think the history of the Agalarovs is important, and the role that lrakly Kaveladze played in the Trump Tower meeting is important. And I think that there is a lot to find out about Kaveladze. You know, I should add, as we have said publicly, I was not aware of the Trump Tower meeting, and no one told me about it before it, and no one told me about it after. But I have a little bit of knowledge of KaveIadze and a little bit of knowledge of the Agalarovs. Kaveladze surfaced in a previous money laundering investigation. I think there is more information about that money laundering investigation in the possession of the government than just the GAO report, and that Kaveladze has been working with the Agalarovs since the early '90s, and they have been involved in a lot of money laundering, and that some of it goes back to suspected KGB money laundering.

So, I think that is a rich area. And I was as shocked as anyone to see; you know, these two matters intersect in the way they did.

So that is important. I think there is a lot of activity we saw around the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean, and a lot of Russian activity. President Trump has a property there he has been quietly trying to sell. And there might have been some meeting activity there. The Turkey-Russia connection I think is deeper than is generally understood. I think that the Turkey-Russia -- I think that the influence campaign that General Flynn got caught up in is reflective of that.

And I think it's not been excavated. And I think that Roger Stone may have connections to that matter that are unexplored.

Page 126  On the Dmitry Rybolovlev mansion transaction:

And what we have seen is that a number of oligarchs have left Russia in recent years who seem to still be doing the bidding of the Kremlin. And to some extent, they like to have an image as someone who is on the outs with the Kremlin, but when you look closely, they are not. And you know, when we looked at Rybolovlev's plane travel, you could see that he was going to Moscow all the time, and that all his legal problems went away, and that there was questions about whether he really did get ripped off in these art deals or whether he just said he got ripped off as a way of accounting for all the money that's missing. So I am now of the view that that transaction is suspicious.

MS. SPEIER: And the additional $50-plus million that Donald Trump received was for what purpose?

MR. SIMPSON: l don't know. I mean -- you mean the profit from that?

MS. SPEIER: Right.

MR. SIMPSON: Trump just claimed it was one of his great business deals. He just claimed he talked him into paying double, which was odd, because the market was going south at that point.

Page 141  On Trump's business connections to Russian mafia:

Q: ... Mr. Trump's other partners included a man who illegally converted a New York factory to loss only to have the city order all his tenants evicted to protect them from hazardous conditions. Another partner owned a nursing home company which was cut off from Federal funds due to concerns that the residents' safety was at risks. Alex Schnaider [sic], a Russian-born Canadian national, became the principal developer. Schnaider had no previous hotel or condo development experience. His most apparent qualification seemed to be that he had made a lot of money quickly.

Financing came from an Austrian bank with no apparent experience in Canadian development, and which had been accused of acting as a conduit for Russian money laundering. Schnaider made misleading statements about the project, and ultimately the project failed and went through bankruptcy. The new buyer removed Mr. Trump's name from the project. What do you know about that?

A: Schnaider (ph) is probably the most interesting of those characters. His father-in-law is a very important figure in the history of the KGB-Mafia alliance. He is named Boris Birshtein. Boris is connected to Mr. Moskovich. And all these people know each other. And they are all connected in one way or another to the Russian Mafia, and some of them are connected to the intelligence services. These guys in particular, I believe, if I am remembering things correctly, have connections to the Solntsevo Brotherhood, which is the dominant Mafia family. 


In regard to all that, and again going back to your earlier question, I think that there is a lot of information to be had from Canadian law enforcement and from Belgian law enforcement about some of these characters. I think you they know pretty well who these guys are, and they have been looking at them for a long time. 

Page 142  On the Russian NRA connection:

MS. SPEIER: Okay. What is the interest of Russia with the National Rifle Association?

MR. SIMPSON: I think that most of what we have found is pretty much out there now. You know, it's been said by others, but, you know, what eventually - it appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA. And there is more than one explanation for why. But I would say broadly speaking, it appears that the Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations. And they targeted various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise, and they seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA.

And so there is a Russian banker-slash-Duma member-slash-Mafia leader named Alexander Torshin who is a life member of the NRA. And we spent a lot of time investigating Mr. Torshin. And he is well known to Spanish law enforcement for money laundering activity, and you have probably seen the press articles. And I think the Spanish files on him should be available to you.


So he is one of the more important figures, but, you know, another woman with whom he was working, Maria Butina, also was a big Trump fan in Russia, and then suddenly showed up here and started hanging around the Trump transition after the election and rented an apartment and enrolled herself at AU, which I assume gets you a visa.

Full testimony: November 14, 2017 Transcript (pdf)