As more details emerge about the murky swamp that funded Fusion GPS’s work on the salacious Trump dossier, a new report reveals CNN’s own ties to the smear-for-hire firm.
CNN’s justice correspondent Evan Perez, who has reported extensively on the Russia investigation and the Trump dossier, is close personal friends with Fusion GPS’s founders, according to a report by the Daily Caller.
Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and Perez both worked at the Wall Street Journal together and regularly co-authored national security stories.
Thomas Catan, another Fusion co-founder, also worked as a reporter for the Journal at the same time as Perez and Simpson. A third co-founder, Peter Fritsch, was Perez and Simpson’s senior national security editor.
Simpson and Fritsch left the Journal in 2011 to launch Fusion, and Perez went to CNN in 2013. Another Journal reporter, Neil King, joined Fusion in December 2016.
The Daily Caller discovered Facebook postings that showed the closeness of Perez to Fusion GPS’s founders.
One photo posted by Perez shows King and another man at a bar near the Washington Nationals stadium in August 2016.
Another photo from September 2015 shows Perez, King, and Fritsch together.
The same year Fritsch co-founded Fusion, Perez posted photos from a fishing trip he took with Fritsch.
“At no point in Perez’s reporting did he disclose his close ties to the Fusion GPS operatives,” the Daily Caller reports.
Interestingly, it was Perez who reported that the dossier was used by the FBI to get a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign associates.
The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board seemingly rebuked its own former reporters in a piece earlier this month that accused the Beltway media of being complicit in a coverup with Fusion GPS: “Americans don’t need a Justice Department coverup abetted by Glenn Simpson’s media buddies.”
The Daily Caller report also notes that Simpson’s wife, Mary Jacoby, bragged about his role in the dossier, saying, “some people still don’t realize what Glenn’s role was in exposing Putin’s control of Donald Trump.”
The report also points out CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s coverage of the dossier has been “relatively soft.”
For example, on Wednesday, Tapper asserted that “some of the details [of the dossier] have been proven accurate.” In the past, he has pointed out that at least one key claim in the dossier was false — that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen went to Prague last August to meet with Kremlin operatives.
CNN also incorrectly reported that former FBI Director James Comey had never told Trump he was not under investigation — whereas Comey himself admitted to doing so during testimony.
Later, two CNN reporters and an editor were fired and forced to retract a report after it was challenged by Breitbart News.
Fusion GPS is coming under mounting scrutiny, after it was revealed last week that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee hired Fusion GPS to look into ties between Trump and Russia in April.
After that, Fusion GPS hired ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who produced the dossier filled with salacious claims that have been unverified to date. His sources for the dossier reportedly included Russian government sources, raising the possibility that the dossier was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
A report on Friday by the Washington Examiner said Paul Singer, a funder of the Washington Free Beacon and Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, initially hired Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Trump, but abandoned the effort after the GOP primary election.
Fusion GPS also has a reputation of smearing Americans for corrupt overseas clients.
The founder of the Human Rights Foundation, Thor Halvorssen, called Fusion GPS “highly paid smear experts” in written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said the company went after him after he criticized a corrupt Venezuelan company that Fusion GPS worked for, the Daily Caller notes.
A former Human Rights Foundation associate, Alek Boyd, said Fusion GPS falsely accused him of being a pedophile, sexual deviant, and drug addict.
“Fusion is basically a pen-for-hire shop, whose owners are prepared to concoct completely spurious stories that are fed to media contacts developed over years of legitimate work in reputable outlets,” Boyd told the outlet.
Perhaps it was the testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee of Bill Browder, who championed sanctions against Russia for corruption, that carried the most weight.
Browder revealed during testimony how Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya had hired Fusion GPS through Baker Hostetler, to conduct a smear campaign against him and his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky after they exposed Russian corruption.
“Veselnitskaya, through Baker Hostetler, hired Glenn Simpson of the firm Fusion GPS to conduct a smear campaign against me and Sergei Magnitsky in advance of congressional hearings on the Global Magnitsky Act,” Browder said in a written statement.
“He contacted a number of major newspapers and other publications to spread false information that Sergei Magnitsky was not murdered, was not a whistle-blower, and was instead a criminal. They also spread false information that my presentations to lawmakers around the world were untrue,” he told senators.