The co-founder of a political and corporate intelligence firm behind an explosive dossier alleging Russian intelligence influence over President Donald Trump will not testify next week in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to two sources familiar with his plans.
The committee on Wednesday announced a July 19 hearing that listed Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, as a witness. His inclusion raised the specter of public testimony about the dossier’s seamy and contested claims of sexual misconduct and a years-long Kremlin conspiracy to get Trump elected.
But the request for Simpson to appear was voluntary, and it’s unclear whether the committee will seek to compel his testimony.
Spokespeople for Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) did not respond to requests for comment.
During the 2016 campaign, Simpson’s firm hired the British spy Christopher Steele, who ultimately produced the infamous dossier, which suggests Trump took part in an intricate Kremlin-backed plot to ascend to the White House. He and the White House have strenuously denied the allegations in the document.
The decision by Grassley to call Simpson to speak publicly is one of the riskiest moves in Congress’ six-month-old probes into Russian meddling in the presidential election. And it amounts to a decision to rip the bandage off an investigation that has at times crawled along slowly.
"I think we need to find out what the facts are and let the chips fall where they may," said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee.
The committee called Simpson — who helped establish Fusion GPS in 2009 — to testify during a larger hearing about the role of foreign lobbying.
Simpson hired Steele, a Russia expert, during the GOP primary and Steele continued his work after Trump was picked as the nominee. In its 35 pages was a seamy tale of a years-long conspiracy by the Kremlin to recruit Trump as an ally, to blackmail him through business deals and to entrap him in acts of sexual misconduct.
Trump famously rebutted the suggestion he engaged in salacious sexual activity when he described himself as a “germophobe.”