Fusion GPS, the firm whose infamous and largely debunked dossier of Donald Trump’s activities in Russia before he was elected president, is at the heart of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The firm appears to have at least tacitly admitted recently it paid reporters to spread claims of collusion against the president.
According to a story in the Washington Times, Fusion GPS, which was formed by former reporters from the Wall Street Journal, is fighting in federal court a bid by House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R.-Calif., to force the firm to reveal which journalists or law firms it paid.
Nunes first subpoenaed Fusion GPS to determine who had paid for the dossier. Marc Elias, general counsel for the Clinton campaign, acknowledged his law firm had paid for Fusion GPS on behalf of the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign.
Nunes broadened the subpoena to include the names of journalists and law firms Fusion may have paid. While Fusion’s attorneys said the updated subpoena is too broad, it seems to confirm the accusation in its response.
Fusion argues the firm should not have to reveal the journalists it paid because of its own First Amendment protections. As for the journalists, it doesn’t say they were not paid.
“They are not pertinent, as they are not related to Russia or Donald Trump. In attempting to justify the overbroad subpoena earlier, Intervenor (the committee) could have, but of course did not, argue the relevance to its inquiry of any such payments.”
The firm’s executives have refused to testify before Nunes’ committee because, they claim, the subpoenas ordering them to appear are invalid because Nunes had recused himself from the committee’s investigation into the role of the Russians in the 2016 elections. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who is running the investigation in his place, said Nunes signed the subpoenas at his behest and only because committee rules require him to do so.
Fusion GPS acknowledges it briefed reporters on each of the 12 memos written by former British spy Christopher Steele that comprised the Trump dossier. And Steele has acknowledged in conjunction with a libel suit filed in the UK that much of the information in the 12 memos was uncorroborated gossip.
This comes on the heels of the 2016 campaign season, when reporters were discovered through the Wikileaks hack of Democrat emails to have submitted their stories for approval by the campaign, coordinated on story angles and warned of unfavorable stories that were about to appear.
The New York Times was caught red-handed warning the Clinton campaign of a story on Elizabeth Warren meeting with Clinton. Snopes, the Clinton-connected self-described arbiter of urban legends, said the claim was misleading and that reporters , as a matter of course, warn campaigns of unfavorable stories in an attempt to obtain a reaction quote or alternate explanation for the events presented.
But the email said, “The NYT (Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman) reached out this morning to tell us that they were aware of a meeting HRC had with Senator Warren at her house back in December. They plan to write imminently, so wanted everyone to be aware that this could pop soon.”
And that doesn’t sound much like the Times was seeking comment. It sounds like a heads-up supplied by a friendly outlet.
Ken Vogel, a former Washington Post reporter now with Politico, was caught making an “agreement” with the Democratic National Committee to let it review a story about Hillary Clinton’s fundraising before the story was submitted to editors.
Vogel’s note to the Democratic Party official he worked with, said in the subject line: “Per agreement … any thoughts appreciated.”
The official then forwarded the story to others, saying, “Vogel gave me his story ahead of time/before it goes to his editors as long as I didn’t share it. Let me know if you see anything that’s missing and I’ll push back.”