Founder of firm that compiled Trump 'dossier' will plead the Fifth before Congress
The lawyer for the co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled a dossier on president Trump's activities in Russia, has informed the Senate Judiciary Committee that his client, Glenn Simpson, will invoke his 5th Amendment rights rather than testify.
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., confirmed in a statement that they subpoenaed Simpson to appear before the committee Wednesday as part of a hearing about the influence of foreign lobbying in last year's presidential election.
"Simpson's attorney has asserted that his client will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to the subpoena," Grassley and Feinstein said.
During the campaign, Fusion GPS contracted former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele to look into rumors about Trump's financial and social connections in Russia. The resulting "dossier," which was leaked to the media following Trump's victory in November included a number of sordid allegations about the president's sexual proclivities.
Last week, Fox News reported that Fusion GPS had ties to Russian efforts to undermine U.S. sanctions that were led by attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Investment manager Bill Browder claims Simpson was hired by one of Veselnitskaya's clients, Prevezon Holdings, as part of an effort to repeal the Magnitsky Act, named for Sergei Magnitsky – an attorney for Browder who was beaten to death in a Moscow prison after accusing Russian authorities of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars through tax refunds and then laundering the money through New York banks.
Veselnitskaya became the center of a political storm earlier this month after Donald Trump Jr. made public emails indicating that he had taken a meeting with her on the promise of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Grassley and Feinstein also noted that both Trump Jr., who met with Veselnitskaya in June of last year, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who sat in on the meeting, are negotiating their appearances and the possibility of turning over documents, but left open the possibility that the pair would be subpoenaed.
Fusion GPS has said it had nothing to do with the Trump Jr.-Veselnitskaya meeting.
"Fusion GPS learned about this meeting from news reports and had no prior knowledge of it. Any claim that Fusion GPS arranged or facilitated this meeting in any way is absolutely false," the company said in a statement.
The media have shown a curious disinterest in the ridiculously false assertions in the Trump "dossier" and where they came from. Steele, the former MI-6 intel agent who wrote it up has ties to Russian intelligence, as does Fusion GPS itself.
More to the point, Fusion has close ties to the Democratic Party. We have yet to discover who ordered the dossier be written and why.
But this story does not fit the Trump-Russia narrative. It would be confusing to present evidence that Democratic Party operatives were working with the Russians to discredit the new president. It would muddy the waters and take the focus off of the president. So the media will bury this story, and Congress will be none the wiser, because Mr. Simpson doesn't want to incriminate himself.