Judge Sides With House Intel Seeking Dossier Firm’s Bank Records

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford arrive for a closed classified briefing for members of the House of Representatives at the Capitol Visitors Center Auditorium September 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. According to the State Department, the Trump Administration officials briefed members of Congress on North Korea and Afghanistan.
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A federal judge on Thursday denied a request by Fusion GPS, the private intelligence firm behind the so-called Trump dossier, to block a subpoena issued by the House Intelligence Committee on the firm’s bank for certain financial records.

In court filings Friday morning, Fusion GPS indicated that it planned to appeal the decision and asked the judge, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, to put Thursday’s order on hold.

Leon, in his opinion Thursday, brushed aside the concern Fusion GPS raised that the committee would leak its clients’ confidential information, and said the subpoena did not constitute a First Amendment violation, as Fusion GPS had argued.

Leon also rejected the firm’s claims that the subpoena was overly broad and that it had been issued outside of the committee’s rules.

“Because the Committee possesses the power to investigate Russian active measures directed at the 2016 Presidential election, and there is a reasonable possibility that the records requested will contain information relevant to that investigation, the Subpoena is not impermissibly broad, even if the records turn out to be unfruitful avenues of investigation,” Leon wrote.

For months, House Intel and the firm have duked it out over the firm’s cooperation with the committee’s Russia probe. Fusion GPS has accused the committee’s Republicans of being on a smear campaign against the firm.

Fusion GPS’ lawsuit to block the subpoena of its bank records was first filed in October, but the litigation died down when it appeared that congressional investigators and the firm had come to an agreement on sharing certain bank records.

That agreement apparently fell apart, prompting them to take the fight to Leon’s courtroom, where he heard arguments on blocking the subpoena in November.

The firm has become a focus of GOP lawmakers on the various committees probing Russia, with some Republicans echoing President Trump’s talking points that it may have been the Democrats who colluded with Russian, given that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee for a time financed the dossier project. The research project was first paid for by the right-leaning Washington Free Beacon, and taken over by the Dems in spring 2016. British ex-spy Christopher Steele was hired after that to produce the dossier, which included various allegations of Russian-Trump ties.

Thursday’s court order comes as House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) also secured a deal — reportedly with Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) backing — to view Justice Department documents related to its attempts to corroborate the dossier’s claims.

Read Judge Leon’s opinion below: