Fusion GPS co-founder strikes deal to talk about Trump dossier
Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of the firm that assembled the controversial “Steele dossier” on President Trump, has struck a deal to appear before the House Intelligence Committee for a voluntary closed-door interview next week, committee leaders announced Wednesday.
An attorney for Simpson said he will not assert his Fifth Amendment rights during the interview, as was done by two other executives from the firm who appeared before the committee last month.
Simpson had been under subpoena by the committee, which is seeking more information on the dossier as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That order will be lifted at the time of the interview on Tuesday, Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said during a joint statement.
Simpson and his lawyer, Joshua Levy, on Wednesday morning spent more than three hours hammering out the deal in the committee’s secure spaces.
“He will be able to maintain Fusion GPS’s privileges and honor its legal obligations,” Levy told reporters, referring to Simpson’s firm. “That’s important to the company, which to this point has maintained its confidential relationships with its clients.”
Testifying voluntarily, Levy said, gives Simpson “the ability to appear with counsel, to assert privileges and to answer questions that he chooses to answer.”
The Intelligence Committee is also locked in a separate legal fight with Fusion GPS over its bank records. A confidential deal was struck last week that the committee said will secure its access to the records it seeks.
In October, two of Simpson’s colleagues, Peter Fritsch and Thomas Catan, invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when called before the House Intel panel.
A “Trump cabal has carried out a campaign to demonize our client for having been tied to the Trump dossier,” Levy said at the time, according to Bloomberg News.
“We endeavor to work with all serious investigators who are going to be striking the balance between Congress’s right to information and our client’s privileges and legal obligations,” Levy said at the time. “We’ve done that with other committees, and will continue to do so.”
The meeting comes as Republicans have sought to draw attention to the provenance of the dossier, a shadowy, 35-page opposition research document that contains a compendium of allegations of coordination between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign.
The document was written by a former MI6 agent, Christopher Steele, and funded by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The transaction passed through a Democratic lawyer who contracted the work out to Fusion GPS.
The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, has also revealed that it hired Fusion GPS during the 2016 Republican presidential primary to conduct opposition research on Trump.
But the website says its involvement predated the hiring of Steele and claims it had no connection to the production of the dossier itself.
Some of the allegations in the dossier have been proven false, while some of the broader threads have been supported by public evidence. Some are unproven and are likely unprovable, but the dossier has nevertheless become a flashpoint in the various congressional investigations into Russia’s election meddling.
Republicans have demanded to know who Steele’s sources were, who funded the document and how it has been used in the federal investigation. Democrats, meanwhile, have suggested that such inquiries are efforts to discredit Steele and say the more important question is whether the assertions in the document are true.
Simpson in August also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee for 10 hours.
— Olivia Beavers contributed.