Quick Takes: An FBI Mole Inside the Trump Team

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Last Friday when Senators Grassley and Graham called for an investigation of Michael Steele, someone (I can’t remember who) documented on twitter why that was a bad idea. The main reason was that it could lead to exactly what happened today.

Glenn R. Simpson, a founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, spoke to investigators with the Senate Judiciary Committee for 10 hours in August. As the partisan fight over Russian interference in the 2016 election has intensified, Simpson has urged that his testimony be released, and a copy of the transcript was made public Tuesday.

It was released by the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

Yes, Feinstein did that.

* Here is the bombshell in Simpson’s testimony that is gaining the most attention:

Glenn Simpson, a former newspaper reporter and the founder of a research firm called Fusion GPS, spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 10 hours in August about his research into Trump, and on Tuesday more than 300 pages of his testimony were released by the committee’s ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California.

Simpson told the committee that his associate, the former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, sat down for a “full debriefing” with an FBI contact in Rome in September 2016. During the debriefing, Steele shared information from his Russian sources, who said Trump had been coordinating with the Russian election-interference campaign of hacking and leaking.

For the FBI, it wasn’t entirely new information, Simpson testified.

“They believed Chris might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing,” Simpson said. “One of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.” He added that the FBI had a “walk-in” whistleblower who was someone in Trump’s orbit.

* NBC News is claiming to know the identity of the “human source.”

However, two sources close to Fusion GPS told NBC News that Simpson’s testimony inaccurately conflated what he had been told, and that the human source was actually George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign aide who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

* This is the other story that is surfacing from Simpson’s testimony:

All told, these are damning indictments against both the New York Times and the FBI.

* In other news, Trump seems to have taken Kevin Drum’s advice on crisis communications. Today he hosted a bipartisan bicameral meeting to discuss immigration issues and allowed reporters to record the session. It was an obvious attempt to prove that he is neither ignorant nor mentally unfit. Take a look at how he did.

* Some people in the media are never going to learn.

* These were the more common takes among those who live in the reality-based world:

* Here’s another reaction to the Oprah phenomenon:

Appearing Tuesday on the Fox Business Network, Steve Cortes, the former head of Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council, dismissed a potential Oprah challenge, saying: “If Donald Trump has three more years like the year he just had of amazing successes, he can run against a combined ticket of Jesus and the Virgin Mary and he will still win in 2020.”

I’m old enough to remember when a similar statement by John Lennon about the Beatles in 1966 led to a massive banning and record-burning episode among evangelicals.

* Finally, before we leave the Oprah-hype, we might as well get a few laughs with her from Chris Rock.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.