A federal judge dealt a significant blow to the opposition “research” firm Fusion GPS, which sought to prevent the House Intelligence Committee from gaining access to its bank records, by denying Fusion's motion for a preliminary injunction regarding a subpoena. The judge's ruling opens the door for congressional investigators to learn more about the financing behind the unverified anti-Trump dossier.
The anti-Trump dossier, which was funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is thought by many to have played a significant role in the FBI’s decision to spy on members of the Trump campaign.
On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush-appointee, ruled that the House panel’s work was legitimate and denied claims made by Fusion that the firm hoped would block access to the bank records. Politico reports:
“The Subpoena at issue in today’s case,” Leon wrote in a 26-page opinion, “was issued pursuant to a constitutionally authorized investigation by a Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives with jurisdiction over intelligence and intelligence-related activities — activities designed to protect us from potential cyber-attacks now and in the future. The Subpoena seeks the production of records that have a ‘reasonable possibility’ … of producing information relevant to that constitutionally authorized investigation.”
“Although the records sought by the Subpoena are sensitive in nature — and merit the use of appropriate precautions by the Committee to ensure they are not publicly disclosed — the nature of the records themselves, and the Committee’s procedures designed to ensure their confidentiality, more than adequately protect the sensitivity of that information,” the judge added.
Leon disagreed with the firm's argument that disclosure of the records would negatively impact its work for political clients in the future, writing, "While the opposition research Fusion conducted on behalf of its clients may have been political in nature, Fusion’s commercial relationship with those clients was not, and thus that relationship does not provide Fusion with some special First Amendment protection from subpoenas. To recast a line from the great Justice Robert H. Jackson, the First Amendment is not a secrecy pact!"
Leon also noted that there was nothing wrong with investigators gathering information about how journalists obtained copies of the anti-Trump dossier that was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, whom Fusion GPS hired to dig up dirt on Trump in Russia.
The more information that continues to come out about the anti-Trump dossier, the more it appears that only a small portion of it is even verifiable. A report in December from Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s seven-hour interrogation by congressional investigators claimed that "when pushed for examples of what was verified in the anti-Trump dossier, McCabe was only able to identify the fact that Trump campaign advisor Carter Page traveled to Moscow — McCabe could not even verify anything about the meetings that Page supposedly had."