A bombshell report from The Washington Examiner reveals that newly filed court documents confirm Fusion GPS made payments to three journalists between June 2016 until February 2017.
The revelation could be a breakthrough for House Republicans, who are exploring whether Fusion GPS used the infamous “Trump dossier”, which was later debunked, to feed anti-Trump stories to the press during and after the presidential campaign.
The three journalists who were paid by Fusion GPS are known to have reported on “Russia issues relevant to [the committee’s] investigation,” the House Intelligence Committee said in a court filing.
However, the recipients’ names, the amounts, and purposes of those payments were either redacted from the documents that Fusion GPS filed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia or were not disclosed, according to the report.
Fusion has asked the court to issue a restraining order against the House committee, which is demanding documents from the company that, among other things, explain the payments it made to reporters. Most of the documents sought are banking records, said the report.
One of Fusion GPS’s co-founders, Peter Fritsch, filed an affidavit that said, in part, “[The House Intelligence Committee] has also demanded records related to transactions between Fusion GPS and certain journalists — i.e., Request Nos. 66, 68-69, 107-112. Those requested records involve transactions that are not pertinent to work related to Russia or Donald Trump.”
Fusion GPS didn’t deny that some payments went to reporters, but attorney Josh Levy argues that these payments were made to help the company with research.
“Fusion GPS is a research firm set up by former investigative journalists,” said Levy in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “As such, it sometimes works with contractors that have specialized skills seeking public information. Contractors are not permitted to publish any articles based on that work, and Fusion GPS does not pay journalists to write stories.”
Levy went on to claim foul play on the part of Republicans. “This is simply another desperate attempt by the president’s political allies to discredit Fusion GPS’s work and divert attention from the question these committees are supposed to be investigating: the Trump campaign’s knowledge of Russian interference in the election,” Levy said.
However, one of the documents filed by lawyers for the House Intelligence Committee said each of the three reporters who received payments had written about the Russia probe, which could indicate that reporters were using Fusion GPS’s work to write their stories.
The Washington Examiner reported Sunday that “FBI and Justice Department officials have told congressional investigators in recent days that they have not been able to verify or corroborate the substantive allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign outlined in the Trump dossier.”
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