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Judge rules Fusion GPS bank records must be turned over to House Russia probe

Judge rules Fusion GPS bank records must be turned over to House Russia probe
Posted at 6:42 PM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-04 19:42:39-05

A federal judge told Fusion GPS on Thursday that its bank would have to turn over to the House Intelligence Committee records the political intelligence firm didn't want to see disclosed.

Fusion GPS and the House have tangled over a subpoena for months, even after three of the firm's clients -- the law firm Perkins Coie (which was connected to the Democratic National Committee), the law firm Baker & Hostetler (which worked for Russian company Prevezon) and the conservative-leaning Washington Free Beacon -- were made public.

The Perkins Coie and Free Beacon engagements ultimately produced the now-infamous Trump dossier during the presidential campaign last year.

In court in recent months, Fusion GPS and the House Intelligence Committee couldn't agree on the subpoena of 70 records with Fusion GPS's Bank, TD Bank. Fusion GPS said the release of the records would violate the company's First Amendment rights and hurt its business.

In a New York Times op-ed published earlier this week, Fusion GPS's founders said they opposed the committee's record requests. "We handed over our relevant bank records — while drawing the line at a fishing expedition for the records of companies we work for that have nothing to do with the Trump case," Fusion's founders wrote.

"Fusion objected to the Committee's requests, arguing that the requested records — which contained financial transactions between Fusion and certain law firms, media companies, journalists and contractors — were irrelevant to the Russia investigation," Judge Richard Leon wrote in his opinion Thursday. Turning over the records "would chill Fusion's ability to do certain kinds of political work and associate with its clients anonymously. ... Unfortunately for plaintiff, I cannot agree."

Leon wrote that the court couldn't restrict what Congress asked for in an investigation. He added that Fusion GPS's work with still-undisclosed law firms and transactions with media outlets and companies could reveal information that's relevant to the House committee's Russia investigation.

Following the ruling, a lawyer for Fusion GPS said the company would continue to fight the House Intelligence Committee's subpoena.

"We plan to appeal the district court's ruling," Fusion's attorney Ted Boutrous said. "Instead of focusing its efforts on Russian meddling in the presidential election, the Committee is misusing its investigatory powers to punish and smear Fusion GPS for its role in examining ties between Mr. Trump and Russia. The Committee is violating Fusion's First Amendment and due process rights and we intend to continue seeking to protect those rights."