Capitol Hill conservatives question timing of McClatchy’s FBI-NRA-Russia article before release of Simpson testimony

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Capitol Hill conservatives are questioning the timing of an article that the McClatchy news service ran claiming that the FBI was investigating a possible nexus between the National Rifle Association and the Russian government–hours before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the transcripts of Glenn R. Simpson’s Nov. 14 testimony about that connection.

Simpson, the co-founder and leader of the political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, testified to the committee about Russian infiltration of the NRA in response to questions from Rep. K. L. Jacqueline “Jackie” Speier (D.-Calif.).

MS. SPEIER: Okay. What is the interest of Russia with the National Rifle

MR. SIMPSON: I think that most of what we have found is pretty much out
there now. You know, it’s been said by others, but, you know, what eventually – it
appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA And there is more than one
explanation for why. But I would say broadly speaking, it appears that the
Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations. And they
targeted various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise, and they
seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA.

The McClatchy report not only followed the same narrative of Simpson’s testimony, but also claimed that the FBI was investigating Russian financial support to and collusion with the NRA.

What got the eye of Capitol Hill conservatives was McClatchy’s sourcing.

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Instead of citing law enforcement or national security or even FBI sources, McClatchy hanged the story on: “two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.”

In the article, the two McClatchy reporters, Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, quote the FBI’s refusal to comment, which itself is strange because Stone and Gordon have run other stories with much more specific and more connected sourcing, such as Justice Department officials and investigators working for Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Gordon told BLP McClatchy does not discuss sources.

One Capitol Hill source told Big League Politics Simpson himself was most likely one of the two McClatchy sources along with any one of the Democrats on the committee, most likely Speier, who is one of the most adamant opponents of the NRA and the Democrat who created the situation that put Simpson’s Russia-NRA nexus in play.

It was Simpson who put together the so-called “Dossier,” an opposition research file about Donald J. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, which was funded by Democratic nominee Hillary R. Clinton and was passed around by the Clinton campaign, leftwing operatives and FBI agents and officials.

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Neil W. McCabe is a Washington-based political journalist and editor. Before joining Big League Politics, he was the Capitol Hill correspondent for Breitbart News, where he also led Breitbart's political polling operation and wrote up the Breitbart-Gravis polls. McCabe's other positions include the One America News DC Bureau Chief, a senior reporter at Human Events and a staff reporter at The Pilot, Boston's Catholic paper. McCabe also was the editor of The Somerville News, The (North Cambridge, Mass.) Alewife and served as an Army combat historian in Iraq. His 2013 e-book The Unfriendly Skies examined how the American airline industry went from deregulation in the late 1970s to come full circle to the highly-regulated, highly-taxed industry it is today.


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