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

Dana Milbank on

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 office scandal; bedeviling Clinton financier 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 left-wing 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, the opposition-research firm Simpson started in 2009 when he left the Journal, as puppets of the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, "colluding" with Russia to find 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 repeating "there's no collusion" ad infinitum) 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 into whether they took official actions in 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.

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