Fusion GPS partners Peter Fritsch and Thomas Catan invoked their Fifth Amendment rights to every question asked of them during a closed-door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reported.
Fusion GPS is the shady opposition research firm that commissioned the infamous anti-Trump dossier, the 35-page document filled with salacious and uncorroborated allegations against President Trump and his associates. The unverified “dodgy dossier” served as the basis for the Russia investigation.
Bill Browder, the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee back in July that Fusion GPS was acting on behalf of Russia at the time it hired British spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt for the dossier. The FBI used the the anti-Trump dossier allegations to bolster their case to get the FISA warrant in June/July 2016 — effectively using Russian propaganda as a pretext to spy on Trump.
Democrat staffers were “aggressive and ran interference” during the hearing in an effort to protect the Fusion GPS witnesses, according to Fox News.
“No American should experience the indignity that occurred today,” Fusion lawyer Joshua Levy said. “No American should be compelled to appear before a congressional committee just to invoke constitutional privileges.”
Levy said in a letter to the panel on Monday that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., was acting “in bad faith” and submitted a 17-page list of reasons why Fusion GPS would not comply.
“Based on this Committee’s bad faith interactions with the undersigned counsel and its pattern of unprofessional conduct exhibited during different points throughout this investigation, you have left us with no choice but to advise our clients to assert their privileges in the face of these subpoenas,” Levy wrote.
Rep. Nunes, however, recused himself from the Russia investigation back in April amid accusations that he was being influenced by the White House. According to CNN, all Russia-related subpoenas are approved by Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas. Conaway confirmed to CNN earlier this month that he asked for the Fusion GPS subpoenas.
A congressional official familiar with the matter told Fox News: “Democrats and Fusion GPS have tried to obstruct every effort to get the facts about the compilation of the Steele dossier and who paid for it, so it’s no surprise that Fusion GPS is saying they’ll continue to obstruct these efforts. Fusion GPS is clearly paving the way to plead the fifth, and Congress is trying to find out if they’re trying to hide something.”
Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson was also subpoenaed by the House panel earlier this month to discuss his involvement in the dossier. He did not appear today, but is expected to come and plead the fifth like his colleagues some time in the future.
In a closed session with the Senate Judiciary Committee last August, Simpson refused to answer “basic questions,” according to sources. The documents he provided were reportedly so useless that they were deemed “disrespectful of congressional investigators.”