New evidence suggests that a former top staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) may be directing the post-election efforts of Fusion GPS, a Democrat-linked political opposition research firm, to vindicate a series of memos alleging illegal collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Congressional documents and recently leaked texts between Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and a registered foreign agent for a Russian aluminum oligarch indicate that Daniel J. Jones is intimately involved with ongoing efforts to retroactively validate a series of salacious and unverified memos produced by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, and Fusion GPS. The dossier, which declassified documents show was used as a basis for securing secret wiretaps on Trump campaign affiliates, was reportedly jointly funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Jones, a former Feinstein staffer who wrote a controversial top-secret report on alleged torture by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), currently runs the Penn Quarter Group, which bills itself as a “research and investigative advisory” and is inconspicuously named after the downtown Washington DC neighborhood where its office is located. Jones was intensively spied on by the CIA during his multi-year congressional investigation of the agency’s interrogation practices, providing an ironic prelude to U.S. intelligence agencies’ use of an unverified dossier produced by Jones’s post-election compatriots as a pretext to spy on their political opponents in 2016.
Jones did not respond to requests by The Federalist to describe the extent of his work with Fusion GPS or Steele. Representatives of Fusion GPS also refused to respond to requests for information on the firm’s work with Jones and Penn Quarter Group.
The former Feinstein staffer’s participation in ongoing efforts to retroactively validate the dossier was first publicly hinted at in January in several inquiry letters from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to various Democratic party leaders who were likely responsible for funding Fusion GPS’s 2016 dossier work, including John Podesta, Donna Brazile, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“Understanding the extent of the DNC’s knowledge of, and interactions with, Mr. Steele and others involved in Fusion GPS’s work is essential to this inquiry,” the two senators wrote. “In light of this, by February 8, 2018, please answer the following questions and provide the following requested documents.” The twelfth item the lawmakers requested, which appears to be the first time Jones’s name was publicly mentioned in connection with the dossier, was all communications between the letters’ recipients and a host of characters involved with the dossier and its financing, creation, and dissemination:
For the period from March 2016 through January 2017, please provide all communications to, from, copying, or relating to: Fusion GPS; Bean LLC; Glenn Simpson; Mary Jacoby; Peter Fritsch; Tom Catan; Jason Felch; Neil King; David Michaels; Taylor Sears; Patrick Corcoran; Laura Sego; Jay Bagwell; Erica Castro; Nellie Ohr; Rinat Akhmetshin; Ed Lieberman; Edward Baumgartner; Orbis Business Intelligence Limited; Orbis Business International Limited.; Walsingham Training Limited; Walsingham Partners Limited; Christopher Steele; Christopher Burrows; Sir Andrew Wood, Paul Hauser;4 Oleg Deripaska; Cody Shearer; Sidney Blumenthal; Jon Winer; Kathleen Kavalec; Victoria Nuland; Daniel Jones; Bruce Ohr; Peter Strzok; Andrew McCabe; James Baker; Sally Yates; Loretta Lynch; John Brennan.
The grouping of the names is a story in itself: the first 15 names (through Nellie Ohr) are those of Fusion GPS’s principals and key staff in 2016; the next 12 (through Deripaska) are connected to Steele and a Russian oligarch sanctioned by the United States, the next two (Shearer and Blumenthal) are longtime Clinton hangers-on who reportedly wrote and disseminated their own dossier of unverified allegations; the next three are key Obama-era State Department officials who likely spread allegations about the Trump campaign throughout the government; then Jones; the next six are top Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or Department of Justice (DOJ) officials who used the dossier to secure secret wiretaps on Trump affiliates; and the final name belongs to Obama’s CIA director.
To those who have closely followed the dossier saga, all but one of those names was familiar. The inclusion of Jones, who appears to have no meaningful public or social media profile beyond his association with the so-called CIA torture report and who had never before been publicly mentioned in connection with the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS, was noteworthy.
Prior to founding Penn Quarter group, Jones spent nearly nine years working on Capitol Hill, where he was one of Feinstein’s top investigators on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He also worked at the FBI from 2003 to 2007 and did a short stint working for a lobbying firm run by former Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Congressional records show that Jones left his congressional job on December 4, 2015. He achieved significant acclaim in that role as the author of an explosive Senate report on alleged illegal torture of terrorists by America’s intelligence agencies. Feinstein profusely praised Jones by name from the Senate floor the day before his official departure, a rare honor generally reserved only for individuals with extremely close relationships with lawmakers.