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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 GoodlatteConservatives fume over format of upcoming Rosenstein interview Rosenstein to appear for House interview next week Fusion GPS co-founder pleads the Fifth following House GOP subpoena 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 TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE’s possible ties to Russia.

The opposition research against Trump was funded in part by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Bolton tells Russians 2016 meddling had little effect | Facebook eyes major cyber firm | Saudi site gets hacked | Softbank in spotlight over Saudi money | YouTube fights EU 'meme ban' proposal Dems lower expectations for 'blue wave' Election Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout 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 MeadowsConservatives fume over format of upcoming Rosenstein interview Farm bill negotiators should take advantage of the moment Conservative rep slams Rosenstein's 'conflicts of interest' 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