Fusion GPS co-founder will invoke 'constitutional rights not to testify': lawyers

Fusion GPS co-founder will invoke 'constitutional rights not to testify': lawyers
© Anna Moneymaker

Lawyers for Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, told the head of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that his client will “invoke his constitutional rights not to testify,” defying a GOP-issued subpoena seeking to compel him to give a closed-door deposition.

The lawyers told Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTrump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: report GOP, Comey have tense day — with promise of a second date The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Trump taps William Barr as new AG | Nauert picked to replace Haley at UN | Washington waits for bombshell Mueller filing MORE (R-Va.) in an electronic letter that Simpson will not participate in the committee’s inquiry because it “is not designed to discover the truth.”

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“Consistent with the September 27, 2018 letter we sent to you, Mr. Simpson, whose testimony is a matter of public record, will not be participating in a confidential deposition before this Committee,” lawyers for Simpson wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Hill. “He will instead invoke his constitutional rights not to testify under the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.”

The lawyers, who declined the committee’s initial request for an interview late last month, blasted the joint investigation being led by Judiciary and the House Oversight and Government Reform committees as a partisan-driven probe aimed at undermining the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

In the latest scathing letter, the lawyers continued to slam the committee — marking a departure from the otherwise typically quiet approach that most lawyers and witnesses involved in this joint probe have taken.

“The obvious — and at times explicitly stated — goal of this Committee is to discredit and otherwise damage witnesses to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, all as part of an effort to protect a President who has sought to placate and curry favor with a hostile foreign power and who demands that the Justice Department stop investigating him,” they wrote.

The lawyers accused the panels' Republicans of seeking to “ruin the reputations of some of the government’s most dedicated and experienced civil servants,” in an attempt to “weaken the independence of this Justice Department.”

The letter, in particular, pointed to the attacks by some of the conservative House members against former British spy Christopher Steele and current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, who was recently interviewed by the committees' investigators behind closed doors.

Simpson, a former journalist who later co-founded Fusion GPS, hired Steele to help compile the dossier, which makes a series of salacious allegations about President TrumpDonald John TrumpProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times George Conway: Why take Trump's word over prosecutors' if he 'lies about virtually everything' Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed MORE’s possible ties to Russia.

The opposition research against Trump was funded in part by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber Comey’s remarks about Trump dossier are not credible, says former FBI official MORE's campaign — a flashpoint for Republicans who have pointed to ties between the opposition research firm and top federal officials as evidence to support their claims that there was bias against Trump among the top brass at the FBI and Department of Justice.

Some conservative House members have alleged that a contractor working for Simpson's firm, Nellie Ohr, could have passed the dossier on to her husband, Bruce Ohr, who worked as a top official with the Department of Justice during the election.

The letter said that going after these officials has “deprived our country of their able assistance in the increasingly urgent fight against foreign interference with our democracy," praising Steele and Ohr.

“For example, this Committee has sought to depict the relationship between Christopher Steele and Bruce Ohr — one of the UK’s top experts on Russia and one of the Justice Department’s leading experts on Russian organized crime — as somehow scandalous, when we should all want these two experts to share information in order to make us safer,” they wrote.

The letter quickly stoked anger among Republicans on the committees.

“It is very telling when Glenn Simpson has talked to multiple reporters and multiple individuals at the Department of Justice over the last two years. When the day of reckoning is on the horizon, he chooses to lose his voice,” Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by Amgen — For Republicans, fight over fetal tissue research comes back to Planned Parenthood | CDC traces contaminated romaine lettuce to California farm | Dems aim to punt vote on ObamaCare taxes Trump says he's down to five candidates for chief of staff For Republicans, fight over fetal tissue research comes back to Planned Parenthood MORE (R-N.C.), one of the staunchest critics of the FBI and Justice Department, told The Hill.

“This Committee has repeatedly interviewed witnesses in secret, only to selectively leak from the interviews to disparage those witnesses and promulgate a patently false narrative,” the lawyers wrote.

Simpson, who has already met with three congressional committees, is one of a number of witnesses tied to the dossier that Republicans have sought to interview as part of their joint investigation.

Congressional investigators are expected to interview Nellie Ohr next week. 

2018.10.11 Letter to Goodlatte on Scribd