Trump’s lat­est tar­get is no pup­pet for the Demo­cratic party

Manila Times - - OPINION - WASHINGTON POST WRIT­ERS GROUP C) 2018, WASHINGTON POST WRIT­ERS GROUP

WASHINGTON: Twenty-three years ago, I ar­rived at the Wall Street Jour­nal’s Washington bureau as a con­gres­sional re­porter at about the same time as a scruffy and per­pet­u­ally un­tucked fel­low named Glenn Simp­son.

I’ve been friends with “Shaggy,” as I dubbed him, ever since. Over the years, I’ve watched him make mis­chief: ex­pos­ing the Clin­tons’ cam­paign fi­nance abuses, in­clud­ing the “Chi­na­gate” scan­dal of 1996; scor­ing a key scoop in the Clin­ton travel Terry McAuliffe; and forc­ing the res­ig­na­tion of James John­son, a top Obama ad­viser in 2008, over the Coun­try­wide scan­dal.

Now Simp­son is ac­cused of be­ing a leftwing hit man for Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Right. And I’m the ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor of Bre­it­bart News.

President Trump has been lead­ing the charge to por­tray Simp­son and Fu­sion GPS, in 2009 when he left the Jour­nal, as pup­pets of the Demo­cratic Party and the Clin­ton dirt on Trump. Trump has been tweet­ing about pay re­ceived by Fu­sion from Clin­ton and other Democrats, and the “COM­PLETE FRAUD” of a dossier pro­duced by a Fu­sion con­trac­tor, which Trump al­leges sparked the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of him.

I get it. Trump’s best de­fense in the Rus­sia probe (per­haps his only de­fense other than - tum) is to go on of­fense, say­ing Clin­ton and the Democrats were the ones who col­luded with Rus­sia, us­ing a dou­ble bank shot in­volv­ing Simp­son, Fu­sion and their con­trac­tor, for­mer Bri­tish spy Christo­pher Steele.

The Wall Street Jour­nal’s ed­i­to­rial board at­tacked Simp­son and Fu­sion last week as “po­lit­i­cal hit men” who pro­duce “dirt for hire,” and ac­cused them of smears and “ob­fus­ca­tion.” Jour­nal colum­nist Kim­berly Strassel pos­tu­lated that Fu­sion has “alarm­ing ties to Rus­sia and po­ten­tially fa­cil­i­tated a dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.”

This is the same Jour­nal ed­i­to­rial page that re­peat­edly praised Simp­son’s work when he was bring­ing down Democrats. It hailed “en­ter­pris­ing re­porters such as the Jour­nal’s own Glenn Simp­son” for ex­pos­ing the hypocrisy of the Clin­ton fundrais­ing op­er­a­tion.

Also at­tempt­ing to paint Simp­son as a left­ist con­tract killer is Sen. Charles E. Grass­ley, R-Iowa, and his Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee staff. The newly re­leased tran­script of the staff in­ter­view with Simp­son is full of sug­ges­tions that Simp­son was po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. Grass­ley has sug­gested that Fu­sion’s work is “dirty,” not “re­li­able” and “Rus­sian pro­pa­ganda.”

But surely Grass­ley knows that Simp­son spent years prob­ing Clin­ton money scan­dals as a jour­nal­ist and at Fu­sion, look­ing ex­change for con­tri­bu­tions and whether the Clin­tons (and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion) abused EB-5 visas, which es­sen­tially al­low wealthy for­eign­ers (and po­ten­tial con­trib­u­tors) to buy U.S. cit­i­zen­ship.

If Grass­ley doesn’t know this, he might want to check with Ja­son Fos­ter, Grass­ley’s chief in­ves­tiga­tive coun­sel, who has re­ceived in­for­ma­tion Simp­son dug up dur­ing Fos­ter’s time on Ju­di­ciary and Fos­ter’s pre­vi­ous stint as an in­ves­ti­ga­tor for Repub­li­can Rep. Dan Bur­ton’s House Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee.

A Grass­ley spokesman said Fos­ter “has - ship with Glenn Simp­son.”

David Bossie, a con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist who worked with Fos­ter on the Bur­ton com­mit­tee, praised Simp­son to Bill O’Reilly back then for ex­pos­ing that McAuliffe pro­tected him­self from probes by giv­ing “a lot of in­for­ma­tion to re­porters.” Simp­son had shown how McAuliffe “cashed in” on la­bor ties.

Simp­son’s for­eign-money in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­fu­ri­ated politi­cians of all stripes. With Jill Abram­son (later top edi­tor at the New York Times), he helped break key sto­ries about John Huang, Webb Hubbell and overseas Asian in­ter­ests giv­ing big cam­paign gifts to Democrats.

Af­ter the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks, Simp­son to Brus­sels un­der Jour­nal bureau chief Peter Fritsch (now his Fu­sion part­ner) and be­came fas­ci­nated with Rus­sian money. In March 2007, he wrote to Paul Manafort with a pre­scient in­quiry, say­ing he had “cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion” that the fu­ture Trump cam Vik­tor Yanukovych with­out reg­is­ter­ing as a for­eign agent. A decade later, Robert Mueller in­dicted Manafort over ex­actly that.

At Fu­sion, Simp­son has in­ves­ti­gated po­lit­i­cal money for clients of all per­sua­sions, in­clud­ing a hedge-fund man­ager and more than a few Trump sup­port­ers. So it fol­lows that when con­ser­va­tive Paul Singer’s Washington Free Beacon and then the Democrats wanted Trump re­search, Simp­son used his in­tel­li­gence con­tacts from Brus­sels to probe

I don’t share Simp­son’s in­ter­est in jour­nal­ism for hire, nor do I ap­prove of his will­ing­ness to take dis­taste­ful clients.

But I do know he’s a dogged gumshoe with one over­rid­ing ide­ol­ogy: dis­trust of all politi­cians.(

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