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May 03, 2017

Whoa: Senators Now Asking if Fusion GPS, the PR Firm Behind the Trump Pee-Party Oppo Dump, Is Itself an Agent of Russian Intelligence

What?

Sean Davis highlighted this part of Senator Grassley's latest (futile) effort to get the FBI to report to Congress as the law demands. He requests...

Also, more information has since come to the Committee's attention about the company overseeing the creation of the dossier, Fusion GPS. Namely, Fusion GPS is the subject of a complaint to the Justice Department, which alleges that the company violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by working on behalf of Russian principals to undermine U.S. sanctions against Russians. That unregistered work was reportedly conducted with a former Russian intelligence operative, Mr. Rinat Akhmetshin, and appears to have been occurring simultaneous to Fusion GPS's work overseeing the creation of the dossier. I wrote to the Justice Department about this issue on March 31, copying you, and I have attached that letter here for your reference. The Justice Department has yet to respond.

In addition to fully answering my March 6, 2017 letter, please also provide the following documents and information:

1. Documentation of all payments made to Mr. Steele, including for travel expenses, if any; the date of any such payments; the amount of such payments; the authorization for such payments.

2. When the FBI was in contact with Mr. Steele or otherwise relying on information in the dossier, was it aware that his employer, Fusion GPS, was allegedly simultaneously working as an unregistered agent for Russian interests? Please provide all related documents.

3. If so, when and how did FBI become aware of this information? Did it include this information about Fusion GPS's alleged work for Russian principals in any documents describing or relying on information from the dossier? If not, why not?

4. If the FBI was previously unaware of Fusion GPS's alleged unregistered activity on behalf of Russian interests and connections with a former Russian intelligence operative, does the FBI plan to amend any applications, reports, or other documents it has created that describe or rely on the information in the dossier to add this information? If so, please provide copies of all amended documents. If not, why not?

Please provide all the requested documents and full answers to all the question by May 12, 2017. I hope that this matter can be resolved without additional holds on nominees. These are important issues that require public transparency.

Here is a snippet from that previous letter he attaches to this new one, explaining how Fusion GPS came to be alleged to be in the service of Mother Russia:

Over the past few years, the Committee has repeatedly contacted the Department of Justice to raise concerns about the Department’s lack of enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”). I write regarding the Department's response to the alleged failure of pro-Russia lobbyists to register under FARA. In July of 2016, Mr. William Browder filed a formal FARA complaint with the Justice Department regarding Fusion GPS, Rinat Akhmetshin, and their associates.

His complaint alleged that lobbyists working for Russian interests in a campaign to oppose the pending Global Magnitsky Act failed to register under FARA and the
Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. The Committee needs to understand what actions the Justice Department has taken in response to the information in Mr. Browder's complaint. The issue is of particular concern to the Committee given that when Fusion GPS reportedly was acting as an unregistered agent of Russian interests, it appears to have been simultaneously overseeing the creation of the unsubstantiated dossier of allegations of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Mr. Browder is the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management (“Hermitage”), an investment firm that at one time was the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia According to the Justice Department, in 2007, Russian government officials and members of organized crime engaged in corporate identity theft, stealing the corporate identities of three Hermitage companies and using them to fraudulently obtain $230 million.

The $230 million was then extensively laundered into accounts outside of Russia. When Hermitage learned of the situation, its attorneys, including Mr. Sergei Magnitsky, investigated. In December of 2007, Hermitage filed criminal complaints with law enforcement agencies in Russia, complaints which identified the Russian government officials who had been involved. In response, the Russian government
  assigned the case to the very officials involved in the crime, who then arrested Mr. Magnitsky and kept him in pretrial detention for nearly a year, until he died under highly suspicious circumstances after being beaten by guards and denied medical treatment.

In response to this, the US passed a "Global Magnitsky Act" imposing sanctions on Russia. Russia retalliated by forbidding US adoptions of Russian orphans.

And they did more than that, it is alleged, recruiting Fusion GPS to push Russian propaganda on Congressmen:


As detailed in press accounts and in Mr. Browder's FARA complaint, in response to hese actions, Prevezon Holdings and the Russian government began a lobbying campaign purportedly designed to try to: repeal the Magnitsky Act; remove the name "Magnitsky" from the Global Magnitsky Act and delay its progress; and cast doubt on the Justice Department's version of events regarding the corporate identity theft of Hermitage's companies, the fraudulently obtained $230 million, and the death of Mr. Magnitsky.

Prevezon's lobbying efforts were reportedly commissioned by Mr. Katsyv, who
organized them through a Delaware non-profit he formed and through the law firm then representing Prevezon in the asset forfeiture case, Baker Hostetler.

Among others, the efforts involved lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin and Fusion GPS, a political research firm led by Glenn Simpson.

According to press reports, Baker Hostetler partner Mark Cymrot briefed congressional staff on the asset forfeiture case, attempting to discredit the Justice Department's version of events and instead push the Russian government’s account.

Rinat Akhmetshin, along with former Congressman Ron Dellums, reportedly lobbied the House Foreign Affairs Committee, telling staffers "they were lobbying on behalf of a Russian company called Prevezon and ask[ing] [the Committee] to delay the Global Magnitsky Act or at least remove Magnitsky from the name,” as well as telling the staffers "it was a shame that this bill has made it so Russian orphans cannot be adopted by Americans."

Mr. Akhmetshin was also involved in the screening, targeting Congressional staffers and State Department officials, of an anti-Magnitsky propaganda film. For its part, Fusion GPS reportedly "dug up dirt" on Mr. Browder's property and finances, and attempted to generate negative stories about Mr. Browder and Hermitage in the
media, shopping stories to a number of reporters.

All footnotes omitted, but you can view the original to see them.
Sean Davis Mollie Hemingway writes this up, and notes Senator Graham asking Comey about this.

Comey refused to answer.

He may have reason not to answer, Hemingway notes:

Grassley said he requested information about this on March 31 but that Justice failed to respond. He is now demanding answers to all of his questions, along with new questions about what the FBI knew about Russian involvement with Fusion GPS, by May 12. The earlier letter... included questions about whether the dossier was used to seek a FISA warrant against anyone. Spoiler: It was strategically leaked that it was.

She links this recent piece as evidence that the garbage Sprinkle Party dossier was in fact used to secure the FISA warrant.

Also, Tapper finds it "damning" that Comey didn't think Loretta Lynch had the credibility to "credibly end this," that is, the investigation into the Clinton email scandal, and to "decline prosecution."

I find it equally damning that Comey viewed it as his, the FBI's, and the DOJ's mission "to credibly end this" [investigation] by "declin[ing] prosecution."

Seems like Comey already had his pre-ordained conclusion firmly in mind; he just didn't think Lynch had the credibility to do the dirty deed herself. So he'd step up to the bat and do what Establishment Washington needed him to do:



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posted by Ace at 02:19 PM

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