For several months the House Intelligence Committee has been locked in a legal fight with Fusion GPS over a subpoena for its bank records. The case had been stalled while Obama appointee and Clinton donor Tanya Chutkan presided over the case. Without explanation, Chutkan was removed from the case in early November and a no-nonsense and experienced trial judge, Richard Leon, was appointed. Since then the case has moved. Leon is sort of treating a subpoena for records of a politically connected firm like he’d treat any other subpoena.
In mid-November, Leon ordered Fusion GPS to release various billing records. In those records, we found that at least three journalists were being paid by Fusion GPS. I suspect we can guess their names if we look at who was pushing the Trump dossier the hardest. Hard to believe that we once thought paying journalists to push a story was something peculiar to Third World countries.
Now all the shoes have dropped.
A federal judge has denied a bid by the private investigation firm Fusion GPS to prevent the House Intelligence Committee from obtaining the firm’s bank records, as part of a congressional probe into the funding and creation of a so-called dossier containing a variety of accurate, inaccurate and salacious claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled Thursday that the House panel’s work appeared to be legitimate. He also rejected Fusion GPS’ claims that confidential information about its clients and sources would be in jeopardy of being leaked if the committee obtained the banking records it is seeking.
“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.
While I’m sure the records will be secured, I’m equally certain there will be commentary about what is in those records. By the end of the month, we will know the names of the journalists on the Fusion GPS payroll. We will know how the Trump dossier was financed. We will probably, finally, know how much money the FBI kicked in along the way.
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