I suspect this latest “development” in the unearthing of anti-Trump forces who procured a politicking franchise by the name of “Fusion GPS” is in danger of drowning beneath the din of noisier headlines lauding Trump’s Russian “connections” when, in fact, we should be paying serious to this peripheral connection that is hard-pressed to get the media attention it deserves.
The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the funding associated with the 2016 Presidential election led it to issue a subpoena to Fusion GPS and its bank on October 4. Fusion GPS fought back with a lawsuit, unwilling to part with its mysteriously mysterious bank records. This weekend, with Robert Mueller’s indictments in the queue for Monday, an agreement was “struck” between the investigatory body and the anti-Trump franchise.
“The emergency legal action taken last week by Fusion GPS helped the company honor its legal obligations and protect its First Amendment rights,” Fusion GPS lawyer Joshua Levy said in a statement. “Today’s result required the involvement of the Court to strike the balance between Congress’ right to information and our client’s privileges and legal obligations.”
The committee issued a statement confirming a deal.
“The parties have reached an agreement related to the House Intelligence Committee’s subpoena for Fusion GPS’s bank records that will secure the Committee’s access to the records necessary for its investigation,” the committee statement said.
Revelations about the funding of the research into Trump’s business, which the House committee was hoping to reveal via subpoena, answered one of the biggest mysteries of the 2016 presidential campaign.
On Friday, representatives of The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, informed the committee that it first hired Fusion GPS during the 2016 Republican presidential primary to conduct opposition research on Trump and several GOP presidential candidates.
In retrospect, the Free Beacon’s divulgence seems a bit too pat, uneasily convenient, in the wake of the today’s announced settlement. The Free Beacon was a little free with its excessively timely admission, if you ask me.
“The Free Beacon had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele,” the Beacon editors said in a statement.
The research effort expanded in March 2016 under financing from Democrats. The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign later retained Fusion GPS to conduct research.
The startling, abrupt end to the Intelligence Committee’s request for banking records belonging to the firm hired by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by anti-American Democrats, under such confidential and surreptitious cover is troubling.
What exactly was the pressing time element that required such “emergency legal action” in defense of Fusion GPS’s First Amendment rights?
I will repeat Joshua Levy’s legal statement on behalf of Fusion because it is dubious and because it begs more questions than all the back-door deals can possibly address.
“The emergency legal action taken last week by Fusion GPS helped the company honor its legal obligations and protect its First Amendment rights. Today’s result required the involvement of the Court to strike the balance between Congress’ right to information and our client’s privileges and legal obligations.”
First Amendment right to…stay in business?
The opposition research firm behind the Trump dossier says that a House Intelligence Committee subpoena seeking its bank records has a good chance of “ruining” its business, as well as of putting its clients’ safety at risk.
The firm, Fusion GPS, also argued in a late-night court filing that the subpoena, issued earlier this month for TD Bank, will have a “chilling” effect on the First Amendment and privacy rights of it and its clients.
“In short, compliance with this subpoena will not only harm Plaintiff’s business, it has a high likelihood of ruining it,” reads one of the arguments presented by Fusion GPS in court papers filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.
Fusion’s argument is part of a mad dash effort to prevent the House committee from finding out who hired the firm to investigate Trump. That question has remained a closely-held secret ever since the dossier, written by former British spy Christopher Steele, was published by BuzzFeed in January.
Fusion has refused to identify its clients in response to numerous lawsuits filed against the firm as well as against BuzzFeed and Steele. Fusion founder Glenn Simpson also refused to identify clients during an Aug. 22 interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The breadth of the subpoena will cause harm to the businesses of Fusion’s clients and contractors and also subject those clients and contractors to harassment, fear of cyberattacks and hacking attempts, and, in some instances, danger to their physical safety,” Fusion’s argument reads.
To support its claim, Fusion included anonymous declarations from nine of its clients, none of who were involved in the dossier, asserting that they did not want their identities revealed by the release of the bank records.
“It is possible that revelation of my association with Fusion GPS could lead to my safety being placed in jeopardy,” declared one Fusion client, who also expressed concern that their company “will become the subject of media attention and politicized scrutiny.”
Conveniently, The Washington Free Beacon‘s admission that it was the genesis of Fusion GPS’s murky existence only implies their role in kick-starting the anti-Trump franchise. They extricated themselves from the vehicle long before it became toxic; apparently, many firms who were affiliated with Fusion GPS were not quite so forward-thinking, causing them to hide behind legal maneuvers and First Amendment manipulations in order to maintain their hides. The
agreement arrangement between Fusion GPS and the Intelligence Committee, overseen by an Obama-appointed judge, is a hypocritical charade of formalities that will continue behind closed doors and away from prying eyes.