Sales of Trump properties suggestive of money-laundering, researcher says

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Testimony to the U.S. Congress by the head of a political research firm indicates that the Trump Organization's sales of properties to Russian nationals may have involved money-laundering, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said on Thursday.

The panel released the transcript of a Nov. 14 closed-door interview with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, whose firm hired a former British spy to research then-presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign ties to Russians and produced a dossier.

SEE ALSO: The real reason Trump went to Pennsylvania

"Those transcripts reveal serious allegations that the Trump Organization may have engaged in money laundering with Russian nationals," Representative Adam Schiff said.

The Trump Organization dismissed the allegations as unsubstantiated.

Another Democrat on the Republican-controlled committee, Representative Jim Hines, sought to temper Schiff's comment, telling CNN that Simpson "did not provide evidence and I think that's an important point. He made allegations."

High-profile Congressional Democrats
See Gallery
High-profile Congressional Democrats
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)
U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

The House of Representatives panel is conducting one of the three congressional investigations into possible collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is leading a separate probe by the U.S. Justice Department. Moscow denies the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that it interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump and Trump denies any collusion.

In his testimony, Simpson said that his firm closely examined sales of condominiums in Trump properties in New York, Miami, Panama City and Toronto.

"There were a lot of real estate deals where you couldn't really tell who was buying the property," Simpson said. "And sometimes properties would be bought and sold, and they would be bought for one price and sold for a loss shortly thereafter, and it really didn't make sense to us."

"We saw patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money-laundering," he continued.

Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s chief counsel, said that the deals Simpson referenced primarily involve properties to which Trump licensed his name, rather than owning, developing or selling them.

"These accusations are completely reckless and unsubstantiated for a multitude of reasons," Garten said.

"These issues have nothing to do with the scope of the investigation" by the House intelligence committee, Garten said in a phone interview. "But it’s not surprising the minority (Democrats) would focus on this given they’ve found absolutely no evidence of collusion."

Simpson, under questioning by Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, also said that Russia’s operation to influence U.S. politics included attempts to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other conservative organizations, such as groups promoting independence for the states of Texas and California.

“They seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA,” Simpson said, according to the transcript.

The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein released Simpson's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she is the ranking Democrat. The panel's Republican chairman, Chuck Grassley, had not agreed to the release.

Senator Dianne Feinstein through the years
See Gallery
Senator Dianne Feinstein through the years
San Francisco's mayor Dianne Feinstein smiling and reviewing a document in her city hall office.
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 11: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., talks with reporters before a Senate Judiciary Committee markup in Dirksen Building on the 'Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017' and judicial nominations on January 11, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
San Francisco Mayor & Dem. gubernatorial hopeful Dianne Feinstein speaking on telephone in private box during NFL game between San Francisco 49ers & Seattle Seahawks; looking at aide. (Photo by Kim Komenich/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
California Governor Gray Davis (L) chats with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on his campaign plane during a three-day tour of California, October 4, 2003. Davis faces a recall election October 7. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson LN/GAC
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Her staff is responsible for spearheading the 6,000-page report set to be released Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, on the interrogation tactics used by the CIA during the George W. Bush years, which President Obama and others have labeled as torture.
US President 's first Supreme Court nominee, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (left) is greeted by the first two women to serve on the Senate Judicary Committee - Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL), right - on July 20 prior to the opening of Ginsburg's confirmati on hearings on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: Committee Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) administers the oath for Acting Director at the National Counterterrorism Center Nicholas Rasmussen during his confirmation hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on November 20, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Rasmussen has been nominated to lead the National Counterterrorism Center and he will become the next director if confirmed by the Senate. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (L) welcomes U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (R) in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, talks to reporters after a private meeting the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. U.S. Senate Democrats plan to elevate first-term Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to their leadership ranks on an expanded communications and policy committee led by third-ranking Democrat Charles Schumer. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein gets off a escalator at the U.S. Capitol building November 12, 2014 in Washington, DC. Congress returned to work today following last week's mid-term election break. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: Committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (L) listens to an aide during a hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee June 5, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The hearing was focused on 'Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Reforms' and H.R.3361 the 'USA FREEDOM Act.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) preside over the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch (not pictured) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks to reporters after the Senate approved $15.25 billion in aid for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey along with measures that would fund the federal government and raise its borrowing limit on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during FBI Director James Comey's appearance before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Bill Clinton holds hands with US. Senator Dianne Feinstein (L) and California Democratic Governor Candidate Kathleen Brown (R) November 4 at a Democratic party rally on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall. Clinton urged voters to elect Brown and re-elect Fienstein, saying he needs them on his team
California State Assemblyman and Democratic Party Congressional candidate Mike Honda raises his arm along with California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D/CA) (L) at a campaign rally at Honda headquarters in San Jose, California, on November 1, 2000. Honda is locked in a tight race with Republican Party candidate Jim Cunneen to represent California's 15th Congressional District. The seat is being vacated by Republican Representative Tom Campbell who is running for the U.S. Senate against Feinstein. LD
Senator Dianne Feinstein addresses supporters November 7 at a pre-election day rally at her campaign headquarters
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) laughs during an election party in San Francisco, California, November 7, 2006. REUTERS/Kimberly White (UNITED STATES)
(Original Caption) San Diego: On the end of a two-day, 5-city campaign tour, former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein announces her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for California governor in the June 5th primary election. Speaking to the San Diego media on the issues, she challenged opponent Calif. Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp to a series of 6 debates.
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: (L to R) Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) talk with each other during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing concerning firearm accessory regulation and enforcing federal and state reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on Capitol Hill, December 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, listens during a hearing with Jeff Sessions, U.S. attorney general, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Sessions�told senators he won't answer questions about his conversations with President�Donald Trump�over the firing of FBI Director�James Comey. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Fusion GPS, based in Washington, hired former British spy Christopher Steele to investigate Trump's business dealings with Russia. It first investigated Trump on behalf of the conservative Washington Free Beacon online news site and then for the Democratic National Committee.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the dossier, which was based on Steele's investigation, calling it "bogus" and "discredited and phony."

Some Republicans critical of Mueller's investigation have said that Steele's dossier triggered the initial probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

They have raised questions about whether the FBI may have relied on the Steele document to improperly obtain surveillance warrants to spy on Trump's campaign associates.

The testimony by Fusion GPS's Simpson before the Senate Judiciary Committee last August contradicted those claims.

Ever since Feinstein released the testimony on Jan. 9, House Intelligence Committee Democrats have been asking that Simpson's testimony to their committee be made public. (Additional reporting by John Walcott in Washington and Mark Hosenball in London; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.