dossier testimony
Fusion co-founder: Dossier author feared Trump was being blackmailed
03:05 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

The dossier has become an explosive political issue

Feinstein's decision to release transcript was made without the support of the panel's Republican chairman

Washington CNN  — 

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Wednesday he is committed to working in a bipartisan way on the Russia probe after a highly public falling out between Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia was speaking to CNN’s “New Day” the day after Sen. Dianne Feinstein unilaterally released the Senate Judiciary Committee’s transcript of its closed-door interview with Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson. Fusion paid a former British intelligence officer to compile an opposition research dossier on President Donald Trump, and it includes unverified allegations that the Russian government has compromising personal and financial information about the President.

The California Democrat’s decision was made without the support of the panel’s Republican chairman, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who had argued the committee needed to temporarily protect certain information while an investigation was ongoing.

“The one thing I do know from the Senate Intelligence Committee, we have had our bumps, but we are still working through this in a bipartisan way, we are going to follow the facts wherever they lead, and we have made great progress,” Warner said. He added that the judiciary panel “will have to find their own way through.”

Grassley said last week that releasing the committee’s interview with Simpson, Fusion’s co-founder, would “taint” the memory of other witnesses and impact the ongoing investigation. But Feinstein said Tuesday that the “American people deserve the opportunity to see what (Simpson) said and judge for themselves.”

Simpson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Christopher Steele, the author of the Russia dossier, acted on his own volition when he went to the FBI with concerns that a presidential candidate was being blackmailed. To date, no evidence has emerged that Trump was blackmailed.

The dossier, both in regard to its allegations and the motivations behind its compilation, has become an explosive political issue. Last week, Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, recommended that the Justice Department pursue possible criminal prosecution against Steele over potential false statements made to federal authorities about distributing information from the document.

Warner told “New Day” that he understood and empathized with Feinstein’s decision to release the transcript.

“You do have certain members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, like Chairman Grassley, in effect, making these outrageous claims about a non-American citizen, implying that that non-American citizen, former agent of the British Secret Service Christopher Steele, making inappropriate comments,” Warner said.

CNN’s Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.