Congressional Committee and Fusion GPS come to agreement over firm's bank records

Charges are expected to be filed in the parallel investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Sunday 29 October 2017 22:58 GMT
House Intelligence Committee ranking member Democratic Representative Adam Schiff is leading one of the parallel investigations into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
House Intelligence Committee ranking member Democratic Representative Adam Schiff is leading one of the parallel investigations into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A House committee and the research firm behind a dossier of unverified information linking Donald Trump and Russia reached an agreement over the firm’s bank records.

The House Intelligence Committee and Washington DC political research firm reached a confidential agreement regarding the 4 October subpoena.

Congress and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller have been conducting parallel investigations into whether Trump campaign team members colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 US election.

"The emergency legal action taken last week by Fusion GPS helped the company honor its legal obligations and protect its First Amendment rights," Fusion GPS lawyer Joshua Levy said in a statement.

Mr Levy added that the agreement attempts to “strike the balance between Congress' right to information and our client's privileges and legal obligations."

The dossier, produced by Mr Steele through Washington DC research firm Fusion GPS and made public in January 2017, contained information about Mr Trump's alleged illicit behaviour during a 2013 trip to Russia as well as illustrating alleged ties between Trump surrogates and Russian officials.

It has been confirmed that it was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

However, Fusion GPS was first hired by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, during the election to obtain opposition research on all Republican candidates for president - including President Donald Trump.

The website then called Fusion GPS to stop its research efforts once Mr Trump became the presumptive nominee.

Free Beacon editors said in a statement: "The Free Beacon had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele.”

Mr Trump this week called it a "disgrace" that Democrats had helped pay for research that produced the document. But the original source of the research remained a secret.

The president himself hinted that he knew the Republican source earlier in the week, but he refused to share it. The White House had no immediate comment about the Free Beacon's involvement.

“During the 2016 election cycle we retained Fusion GPS to provide research on multiple candidates in the Republican presidential primary, just as we retained other firms to assist in our research into Hillary Clinton," wrote the site's editor-in-chief, Matthew Continetti, and chairman Michael Goldfarb.

The website and its leaders have strong ties throughout the Republican establishment.

Mr Goldfarb was deputy communications director on Senator John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008.

Mr Singer was backing Florida Senator Marco Rubio's presidential bid at the time of the Free Beacon's involvement. And one of Singer's closest associates, Republican operative Dan Senor, served as Speaker Ryan's chief adviser during the 2012 president campaign.

James Comey, FBI director at the time, advised Mr Trump about the existence of the allegations, and Mr Steele has been questioned as part of an ongoing probe into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The House Intelligence Committee will help verify whether the Free Beacon had any involvement with Steele or his dossier, according to Jack Langer, a spokesman for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

"The Beacon has agreed to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee to help the Committee verify this assertion," Mr Langer said.

The research effort expanded in March 2016 under financing from Democrats. The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign later retained Fusion GPS to conduct research.

"To assist in its representation of the DNC and Hillary for America, Perkins Coie engaged Fusion GPS in April of 2016, to perform a variety of research services during the 2016 election cycle," a spokesman for Perkins Coie, a law firm retained by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, wrote in a letter obtained by ABC News. "By its terms, the engagement concluded prior to the November 2016 Presidential election."

ABC News reported in August that Fusion GPS was paid during the GOP primaries by a Republican and later by Democrats to dig up dirt on Trump and plant negative news stories.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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