Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Wednesday filed a $9.9 million federal racketeering lawsuit against the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, claiming it coordinated with the Campaign for Accountability (CfA) to file several fraudulent ethics complaints against the congressman in 2018.
Nunes is accusing both parties of smearing him in an effort to derail his investigation into Fusion GPS and the Steele dossier, The Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) reported.
The congressman’s complaint, which was filed in federal court in Virginia, alleges that Fusion GPS and CfA engaged in “racketeering activities” as part of a “joint and systematic effort to intimidate, harass, threaten, influence, interfere with, impede, and ultimately to derail” the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) investigation into the dossier, which Nunes directed while chairman of the committee.
Nunes’ lawsuit links CfA payments to Fusion GPS to a string of harassing ethics complaints that the watchdog group filed against him last year.
“While we were investigating Fusion GPS, they were actively involved in working to smear me to obstruct justice, to derail our investigation,” Nunes told Fox News host Sean Hannity Wednesday night.
According to DCNF, CfA’s 2018 tax filings show that they paid Fusion GPS nearly $140,000 for unspecified research activities.
CfA filed three complaints against Nunes with the Office of Congressional Ethics. In a Jan. 25, 2018 complaint, CfA accused Nunes of leaking sensitive House Intelligence Committee information about Fusion GPS.
Daniel Stevens, the executive director of CfA, denied in a statement to the DCNF that the payment was for information about Nunes.
“CfA did not hire Fusion to look into Devin Nunes or coordinate with the firm regarding our ethics complaints against Devin Nunes,” he told the DCNF for the Aug. 1 article.
But Nunes, who is seeking $9.9 million in damages, dismisses Stevens’ denial, saying in the lawsuit that the ethics complaints were “fraudulent and retaliatory,” and intended to protect Fusion GPS and its co-founder, Glenn Simpson.
He alleges that Fusion GPS and Simpson “harbored spite and ill-will” towards him for exposing details of Fusion’s dossier-related work.
One possible reason for the bad blood could be the fact that the House Intel Committee under Nunes was able to uncover a massive bombshell in October of 2017 that precipitated the unraveling of the Russia hoax.
HPSCI subpoenaed Fusion GPS’s bank records, leading to the shocking revelation that a law firm (Perkins Coie) working for the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid Fusion GPS more than $1 million in 2016. Fusion, in turn, paid former British spy Christopher Steele nearly $170,000 to investigate Donald Trump, leading to what would become the unverified and sloppy product known as the Steele dossier, aka dirty dossier, aka anti-Trump dossier.
The FBI used the now-mostly debunked dossier to obtain surveillance warrants against former Trump aide Carter Page. In other words, the FBI used unverified political opposition research to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
Another reason Nunes believes Fusion GPS and Simpson may have retaliated against him is because they feared the Republican would submit criminal referrals against Simpson over the allegedly false testimony he gave the House Intel Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017.
Nunes accuses Simpson of lying in his HPSCI testimony on Nov. 14, 2017 when he said that he had contact with the Justice Department and FBI regarding the dossier only after the 2016 election. Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official whose wife was a contractor at Fusion GPS, testified on Aug. 28, 2018 that he and Simpson met in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 22, 2016.
Nunes also claims that Simpson lied during his Senate testimony on Aug. 22, 2017 when he denied having a client for Trump-related work after the 2016 election. A non-profit group called The Democracy Integrity Project hired Fusion GPS and Steele’s London-based firm in 2017.
“Fearing a criminal referral for his false statements to the FBI and DOJ, for lying to Congress and the Senate, and for obstructing the House Intelligence Committee in its Russia investigation, the Defendants directly and aggressively retaliated against Plaintiff, employing the same or similar means and methods as Fusion GPS and Simpson have employed multiple times in the past to smear the opposition,” the complaint says.
“We’re going to have to rely on the courts to fix this mess,” Nunes told Hannity. The California Republican added that he would be bringing more people involved in the Russia hoax to court “because ultimately people have to be held accountable.”
The congressman explained that it would be a mistake to “rely just on the Department of Justice.”
“All of this has to happen in order to pull this information out because as you know, the deep state is very good at hiding things and so in order to get at it you have to work every day to pull back pieces of this onion.”