The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the U.S. House of Representatives has filed a motion in federal court to compel the bank of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the infamous ‘golden showers’ dossier, to obey their subpoena for the firm’s records.
The committee is seeking the bank records in an attempt to figure out who financed the dossier, who received the dossier, what steps were taken to verify the information and whether or not any US agencies used this unverified and discredited dossier to obtain surveillance applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The House is also looking into whether Fusion GPS engaged in “other Russia-related work” within the scope of the Committee’s pending investigation.
After the committee issued a subpoena for the bank records, Fusion filed a motion to halt the bank from complying. In the very early hours of Saturday morning, Thomas Hungar of the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives filed a counter motion in federal court to force the bank to comply.
The motion, obtained by Big League Politics, states that “public reports reveal that Fusion GPS has allegedly been involved in lobbying against the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (which allows the Executive Branch to impose travel restrictions and sanctions on foreign persons responsible for human rights violations); providing litigation support in the Magnitsky related Prevezon Holdings money laundering case; and receiving compensation from the Russian government.”
“As part of its inquiry into the Russian active measures targeting the 2016 U.S. election, the Committee seeks, among other things, to understand all facets of the ‘dossier’ which include: Who paid for it? Who received it? What steps were taken to corroborate the information contained therein? Did the FBI rely on the ‘dossier’ as part of its counterintelligence investigation that was initiated in July 2016, as publicly announced by former FBI Director James Comey on March 20, 2017? The key to answering many of these questions lies with information in the possession of Fusion GPS, as well as records of one or more Fusion accounts at Defendant Bank,” the motion continues.
Further, it declares that the committee’s subpoena for bank records was validly issued, does not violate First Amendment rights, and that Congressional subpoenas are not limited by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and Right to Financial Privacy Act.
In addition to the committee’s filing, President Donald Trump also took to Twitter on Saturday to urge the Justice Department or FBI to release information on who funded the dossier.
Officials behind the now discredited "Dossier" plead the Fifth. Justice Department and/or FBI should immediately release who paid for it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017
In a must-read op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel painted a vivid portrait of who and what exactly Fusion GPS is. She explained that Fusion GPS is “a firm that in 2012 was paid to dig through the divorce records of a Mitt Romney donor. It’s a firm that human-rights activist Thor Halvorssen testified was hired to spread malicious rumors about him. It’s a firm that financier Bill Browder testified worked to delegitimize his efforts to get justice for Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer beaten to death in a Russian prison.”
Earlier this week, Peter Fritsch and Thomas Catan, two of the partners at Fusion GPS, invoked the Fifth Amendment during a House Intelligence Committee hearing, refusing to answer the questions about the dossier that were posed to them. The Fifth Amendment only gives someone protection from having to provide self-incriminating evidence — and this was invoked on questions ranging from who paid the former M16 officer Christopher Steele to questions about the firm’s own involvement in the dossier.
“No American should be required to appear before a congressional committee just to invoke his constitutional privileges. But that is what chairman Nunes required of our clients at Fusion GPS today, in a sharp departure from even the past practice of this committee’s investigation, where witnesses under the exact same circumstances were excused from appearing,” Fusion attorney Joshua Levy said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Strassel’s report also details how House Republicans have been stonewalling this investigation — and their shocking behavior during this week’s hearing. One of the most jaw-dropping claims include staffers for Adam Schiff interrupting Congressman Tom Rooney and accusing him of badgering a witness. “Staff do not interrupt congressmen,” she noted in her report, “they do not accuse them of misbehavior. And they certainly do not act as defense attorneys for witnesses.”
Steele, through Fusion GPS, was originally hired by “political opponents” within the Democratic and Republican parties to investigate Trump, but it has not been revealed exactly who hired him. According to reports, anti-Trump Senator John McCain had sent an intermediary to London in November to collect the dossier, which was then personally passed to FBI Director James Comey.
When asked about his connection to the dossier by the Daily Caller on Wednesday, McCain reportedly became “testy” and asserted, that he “gave it to no one except for the director of the FBI.” He added, “I don’t know why you’re digging this up now.”
Along with the bizarre claims about prostitutes and urine, the Fusion GPS dossier also accused Russian tech executive Aleksej Gubarev of hacking into DNC computers and being responsible for the emails released by WikiLeaks. He is currently suing both BuzzFeed, who published a portion of the dossier, and Steele.
The allegations contained within the dossier have been dismissed by both Trump, who has referred to Steele as a “failed spy,” and by Russian President Vladimir Putin.