Executive of Firm Tied to Trump Dossier Makes Deal on Testimony

Updated on
  • Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS to meet Tuesday with House panel
  • Republicans seek to bring new scrutiny to Trump dossier

The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday struck a deal to obtain voluntary testimony next week from the founder of the firm that assembled an opposition-research dossier alleging ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.

The agreement allows Glenn Simpson, of Fusion GPS, to return with his lawyer and answer questions "he chooses to answer," said his lawyer, Josh Levy.

Simpson had been forced on Wednesday to appear before the panel under a subpoena issued by the committee’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes of California. After three hours of closed-door discussions, Representatives Michael Conaway, the Republican leading the committee’s Russia investigation, and Adam Schiff, the panel’s top Democrat, announced the agreement had been reached.

Neither would elaborate on what concessions, if any, had been made to secure the deal. Conaway said the subpoena would be withdrawn when Simpson returns on Tuesday.

Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, left the Capitol without speaking to reporters. There was no immediate comment from Nunes through a spokesman.

Focus on Dossier

Nunes and other panel Republicans are seeking to bring new scrutiny to the 35-page dossier that was assembled during the presidential campaign last year.

While Democrats intend to focus on links between Trump and Russia, Nunes is seeking to shift to topics such as the origin of the dossier. Republicans want to discuss who paid for it and whether it was used by federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies examining possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

A former U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, has said that the dossier didn’t exist as a formal document when the FBI began its investigation in July 2016. It’s possible, however, that the FBI was made aware of some of the allegations that eventually went into the dossier, and those allegations played a role in the FBI opening its investigation, the former official said.

Trump has denied the allegations contained in the dossier, which was written largely by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was paid by Fusion GPS.

Legal Battle

Committee Republicans and Fusion are locked in a legal battle over access to the firm’s bank records. Lawmakers say they want to see who paid Fusion and who received payments from Fusion.

During the 2016 campaign, Democrat Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee indirectly paid through a law firm for some of the dossier’s research, taking over from earlier Republican funders who had wanted to keep Trump from the Republican nomination.

Nunes has been demanding records from the Justice Department and the FBI on potential ties to Steele, and whether they relied on information from him to obtain surveillance warrants.

Before Wednesday’s meeting, Levy, the Fusion lawyer, had said that forcing Simpson and other Fusion officials to testify violates their First Amendment rights and that it would deter those running for office from conducting research on campaign opponents.

Under the agreement reached with the committee, Levy said Simpson "will be able to maintain Fusion GPS’s privileges and honor its legal obligations. That’s important to the company, which to this point has maintained its confidential relationships with its clients."

Levy has complained Nunes is undermining the legitimacy of the House committee’s investigation. Nunes was forced to step aside from heading the panel’s Russia investigation in early April amid controversy.

But Nunes has received the backing of other panel Republicans -- including Conaway -- to pursue his inquiries on the dossier. 

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