A federal judge has ruled against Fusion GPS in the Trump dossier firm’s quest to block the release of its bank records to the House Intelligence Committee.
Judge Richard Leon shot down all four of Fusion’s arguments against the release of 70 records of transactions involving some of its clients as well as journalists and researchers it has paid since Sept. 2015.
Fusion sued its bank, TD Bank, in October, to prevent it from complying with a subpoena issued by the House Intelligence Committee, which has been looking into Fusion’s role in putting together the dossier.
That subpoena, issued by committee chairman Devin Nunes on Oct. 5, prompted Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented the Clinton campaign and DNC, to reveal that it had hired Fusion GPS in April 2016 to investigate Trump.
Fusion, which was founded by three former Wall Street Journal reporters, later hired Christopher Steele, a former British spy with experience in Moscow.
Fusion argued that the court should quash the committee’s subpoena on four separate grounds.
The company argued that the subpoena for bank records lacked a valid legislative purpose, that it was too broad and the records being sought were not relevant to the committee’s Russia probe, that it violated Fusion’s First Amendment rights, and that it violated statutes prohibiting the release of bank records to government authorities. (RELATED: UNSEALED: Fusion GPS Bank Records Show Russia-Related Payments)
Leon shot down all of the arguments, including Fusion’s assertion that Nunes had no grounds to issue a subpoena because he had recused himself back in April from the Russia probe.
“Unfortunately for plaintiff, the record contradicts its claims,” wrote Leon, a George W. Bush appointee.
Leon rebutted the claim — pushed by Fusion and Democrats alike — that Nunes had actually recused himself from the investigation.
He pointed to Nunes’ oft-cited press release in which he ceded control of the committee’s day-to-day operations to Texas Rep. Conaway. But “nowhere in this press release did Chairman Nunes ‘recuse’ himself from the Russia investigation,” Leon notes.
“He retained the power to issue the Subpoena at issue in this case.”
Leon also said that the committee’s subpoena is not overly broad. He noted that it has already been revealed that Fusion ordered Steele to brief several news outlets on the dossier. Therefore, the subpoena may reveal “relevant information” about payments to reporters.
The Intelligence committee has stated in past court filings that Fusion’s bank records shows that it has made nine separate payments to three unidentified journalists who wrote about or commented on Russia-related issues during the presidential campaign and into 2017.
Fusion also did work for a Russian businessman with links to the Kremlin. The oppo firm was paid by the businessman’s law firm, BakerHostetler.
Leon also dismissed the idea that the bank subpoena violates Fusion’s First Amendment right to free association.
“Plaintiff points to no authority to support its theory that the freedom of association protects financial records,” says Leon.
Leon did not set a date for when TD Bank must release the Fusion bank records.