The bombshell revelation that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded Fusion GPS’s work on the Trump dossier came just days before the company faced the prospect of it becoming public anyway.
The House intelligence committee on October 4 subpoenaed Fusion GPS executives, as well as the firm’s banking company, TD Bank, to turn over its financial records, which would expose who paid for the dossier research.
Last week, two Fusion GPS executives came to talk to the committee but pleaded the Fifth on every question. The company also filed a request with a D.C. district court to quash the subpoena for its financial records.
The deadline for TD Bank to respond to the subpoena was Wednesday, October 25, but the court extended the deadline to Friday morning, according to CNN.
Facing this deadline, Perkins Coie, the law firm for the Clinton campaign and the DNC that hired Fusion GPS, gave Fusion GPS permission to disclose that it paid for the dossier research.
Hiring Fusion GPS through a lawyer, instead of directly, created “attorney-client privilege,” that gave the law firm control over what Fusion GPS could disclose.
But faced with the subpoena, the general counsel for Perkins Coie sent a letter to Fusion GPS on Tuesday that said, “We recognize the important principle of client confidentiality, and we appreciate your efforts to fulfill your obligation to maintain client confidentiality.
“In the circumstances, however, we believe it is appropriate to release Fusion GPS from this obligation as it relates to the identity of Perkins Coie.” It then outlined what Fusion GPS could disclose.
The Clinton campaign and DNC’s involvement was first disclosed to the Washington Post by “people familiar with the matter” — potentially those who wanted the story to come out on their terms, versus the House intelligence committee’s.
New York Times reporter Kenneth P. Vogel tweeted Tuesday evening that when he tried to report the same story as the Post‘s, Marc E. Elias, the Perkins Coie lawyer that retained Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, denied it.
“When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong,'” he tweeted.
Times reporter Maggie Haberman also tweeted, “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.”
The dossier contained outlandish allegations about Trump, and has been widely dismissed as not credible. However, it was reportedly used by the FBI to obtain a surveillance warrant last summer against one of Trump’s campaign aides, Carter Page, and acted as a “roadmap” for the FBI’s investigation.
The court is still poised to issue a decision this week on whether TD Bank will have to turn over all the firm’s financial records, according to a congressional official. That could expose who else funded opposition research against Trump.
A Republican donor reportedly first funded the dossier, though it was not until Clinton and the DNC got involved that Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy who produced the dossier.