Bank turns over disputed Fusion GPS records to Congress

Fusion GPS continues to fight against the release of its financial records and client names, even after a federal jud...

Posted: Jan 6, 2018 12:55 PM
Updated: Jan 6, 2018 12:55 PM

Fusion GPS continues to fight against the release of its financial records and client names, even after a federal judge said Fusion's bank would have to turn over records the political intelligence firm didn't want to see disclosed.

Fusion GPS and the House Intelligence Committee have tangled over a subpoena of Fusion's bank records for months, even after three of the firm's clients -- the law firm Perkins Coie (which was connected to the Democratic National Committee), the law firm Baker & Hostetler (which worked for Russian company Prevezon) and the conservative-leaning Washington Free Beacon -- were made public.

Fusion GPS and the House Intelligence Committee have tangled over a subpoena of Fusion's bank records

The firm had created a now-infamous dossier on Donald Trump

The Perkins Coie and Free Beacon engagements ultimately produced the now-infamous Trump dossier during the presidential campaign last year.

On Friday morning, Fusion GPS asked Judge Richard Leon to stay his ruling because the company says it plans to appeal. Leon had rejected the company's argument that handing over the records would hurt its business and endanger its clients.

"There is a significant risk of leaks from the investigation, and leaks have already resulted in retaliation against a senior Justice Department attorney whose wife, a Russia expert, has done work for Fusion in the past," Fusion's lawyers wrote in a court document filed Friday. The Justice Department attorney was Bruce Ohr, who was demoted amid the discovery of certain meetings with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who assembled the dossier.

"The threat of retaliatory disclosure of confidential information in the records is not just theoretical, it is part of a pattern and an underlying purpose of the subpoena," the lawyers wrote.

In court in recent months, Fusion GPS and the House Intelligence Committee couldn't agree on the subpoena of 70 records with Fusion GPS's bank, TD Bank. Fusion GPS said the release of the records would violate the company's First Amendment rights and hurt its business.

In a New York Times op-ed published earlier this week, Fusion GPS's founders said they opposed the committee's record requests. "We handed over our relevant bank records - while drawing the line at a fishing expedition for the records of companies we work for that have nothing to do with the Trump case," Fusion's founders wrote.

"Fusion objected to the committee's requests, arguing that the requested records - which contained financial transactions between Fusion and certain law firms, media companies, journalists and contractors - were irrelevant to the Russia investigation," Leon wrote in his opinion Thursday. Turning over the records "would chill Fusion's ability to do certain kinds of political work and associate with its clients anonymously. ... Unfortunately for plaintiff, I cannot agree."

Leon wrote that the court couldn't restrict what Congress asked for in an investigation. He added that Fusion GPS's work with still-undisclosed law firms and transactions with media outlets and companies could reveal information that's relevant to the House committee's Russia investigation.

Following the ruling, Ted Boutrous, a lawyer for Fusion GPS, said the company would continue to fight the House Intelligence Committee's subpoena.

"Instead of focusing its efforts on Russian meddling in the presidential election, the committee is misusing its investigatory powers to punish and smear Fusion GPS for its role in examining ties between Mr. Trump and Russia," Boutrous said. "The committee is violating Fusion's First Amendment and due process rights and we intend to continue seeking to protect those rights."

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