Opposition research firm that bought Russian dossier fights bid to ID payments to journalists

by WorldTribune Staff, November 7, 2017

Fusion GPS, which used funds from the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign to pay for the discredited Trump dossier, is attempting to block a House committee’s subpoena seeking the names of journalists who may have been on Fusion’s payroll.

Rep. Devin Nunes. / Getty Images

Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, signed a subpoena to force a bank to turn over Fusion’s financial records. Nunes wants to know who paid for the dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele.

Fusion and Nunes had worked out an agreement on access to some of the firm’s financial records, according to a Nov. 5 report by Rowan Scarborough for The Washington Times.

“But the dispute heightened again (on Nov. 3) as Fusion renewed its request for a judge to block the subpoena because Mr. Nunes wants more information,” including the names of journalists and law firms that Fusion might have paid, Scarborough wrote.

Fusion did not deny paying journalists, but cited First Amendment protection and confidentiality for its attempt to block the subpoena.

“And they are not pertinent, as they are not related to Russia or Donald Trump,” Fusion argued. “In attempting to justify the overbroad subpoena earlier, Intervenor could have, but of course did not, argue the relevance to its inquiry of any such payments.”

Meanwhile, in Florida, Russian technology entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, chief of Internet-platform provider XBT Holding, is suing BuzzFeed, which published the unverified dossier, for libel, Scarborough reported.

The Steele dossier accused Gubarev of overseeing a botnet operation that flooded Democrats’ computers with porn, viruses and spyware. It said the operation was financed by the FSB, Russia’s intelligence agency.

Steele acknowledged in a London libel case brought by Gubarev that he never confirmed the information and just passed it along to Fusion GPS.

Fusion, which briefed a number of Washington reporters on Steele’s assertions, has said it was not the source of BuzzFeed’s copy.

Katherine M. Bolger, BuzzFeed’s attorney, said that since the dossier was the subject of a federal investigation when it was posted in January, BuzzFeed had complete legal freedom to report on it whether true or not.

“If the United States government is investigating allegations, the press is free to report on them, period,” Bolger said.

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