Sen. Grassley: Fusion GPS Founder Has Agreed To Discuss Trump Dossier
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said on Wednesday that the founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS has agreed to discuss his involvement with the now-infamous Trump dossier as well as his interactions with the FBI.
Grassley made that revelation during his opening remarks at a hearing to discuss the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Last week, Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, said through his attorney that he would decline the committee’s invitation to appear at the hearing. Simpson’s lawyer also said that Simpson would plead the Fifth if subpoenaed.
But on Tuesday, the committee agreed to waive its subpoena in exchange for Simpson’s agreement to provide a private, transcribed interview.
Grassley said that he withdrew the subpoena after Simpson agreed to discuss “his involvement in creating the Trump dossier and interactions with the FBI” as well as “his alleged work with the unregistered foreign agents who met with the Trump family and campaign officials.”
Fusion GPS, which Simpson co-founded in 2010 with other Journal reporters, was hired by a GOP donor in Sept. 2015 to conduct research on Trump. By June 2016, the Republican client dropped from the project, and a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s hired the firm to continue its research.
Fusion GPS then hired former British spy Christopher Steele to continue the project. He would go on to write a dossier a 17 separate memos containing various uncorroborated allegations about Trump and members of his campaign.
Grassley has been interested in the dossier because the document was reportedly used by the FBI as part of its investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. The bureau also reportedly struck an informal agreement to pay Steele $50,000 in order to continue gathering information about Trump. That payments was reportedly never made, though it is unclear why.
Fusion GPS factors into Wednesday’s FARA hearing because of its work last year on a campaign to undermine the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law opposed by the Russian government.
Fusion GPS worked for Denis Katsyv, a Russian businessman who opposed the law, which was passed in 2012.
One Russian national involved in that campaign is Natalia Veselnitskaya, an attorney for Katsyv and one of the people who met with members of the Trump campaign in Trump Tower last June.
Veselnitskaya’s involvement with Fusion GPS and participation in the Trump Tower meeting have led some to question whether there is a connection between the meeting and the dossier.
Though Grassley says that Simpson has agreed to discuss the dossier, he has so far refused to provide information to the Judiciary Committee, including the identity of its clients and its interactions with Steele and the FBI.
“We will also pursue details about Mr. Simpson’s role in both this and the dossier that started the whole controversy. Knowing exactly who is acting on behalf of the Russian government is vital in order to get to the bottom of Russian influence, and any other foreign influence,” Grassley said Wednesday.