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Firm behind Trump-Russia dossier fights Republican demand to open its books

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 20:02:00 +0000

Double Exposure: Investigative Film Festival and Symposium(WASHINGTON) -- A powerful House Republican is trying to force into public view the identity of the person who first hired the investigative firm that compiled the infamous dossier of alleged links between Russians and the Donald Trump campaign.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes quietly approved a subpoena earlier this month that would compel the unidentified bank handling finances for a private investigative firm called Fusion GPS to open up the company’s books.

The firm went to federal court Friday to try to block the effort.

“Congress is trying to find out what Fusion GPS is trying to hide,” a congressional official told ABC News.

Fusion GPS, founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, is at the heart of the mysterious origin story behind the scandal that has dogged President Trump’s administration since his first days in office.

In early 2016, Fusion GPS began investigating Trump at the request of an unnamed Republican client. Around the time Trump secured his party’s nomination, a Democratic-leaning client took over funding the effort.

The company was responsible for hiring a former British spy and Moscow station chief, Christopher Steele, to explore links between Trump and the Russians.

Steele’s work yielded the so-called “dossier,” which is a series of memos that outline raw intelligence, much of it unverified, that alleges collusion between Russian agents and the Trump campaign.

The document also includes unverified and refuted accounts that Russians had “compromised” Trump by secretly filming him in a hotel room during a 2013 visit to Moscow.

Trump has called the document false and the investigation a hoax.

The company believes Republicans in Congress are trying to use bank records to breach Fusion GPS’s confidentiality agreements with its clients and identify who paid for the Russia research, a lawyer for the company told ABC News.

Lawyers for Fusion GPS went to U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday to ask a judge to enjoin the bank from sharing records with Congress.

Fusion GPS attorney William W. Taylor III told ABC News the congressional demand is so broad it would expose all of the firm’s clients, the vast majority of whom have nothing to do with the Russia investigation.

Democrats have criticized Nunes for approving subpoenas after announcing he was stepping back from the committee's Russia investigation in April, when the House Ethics Committee announced it would review accusations that Nunes improperly disclosed classified information.

Nunes, who remains the committee chairman and is required to sign off on all subpoenas issued by the panel, has said he never recused himself and reserves the right to participate in the investigation.

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