The firm behind the salacious anti-Trump Russian dossier and a suspected former Russian intelligence officer are being investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee after the discovery that they were lobbying for the Kremlin against a U.S. law targeting Russian officials suspected of involvement in the death of a whistleblower.
Fusion GPS, the firm behind the anti-Trump dossier, and Rinat Akhmetshin, an suspected Soviet agent, lobbied on behalf of the Kremlin against the Global Magnitsky Act, which passed in 2012.
The act was created in response to the suspicious death of a Russian whistleblower, Sergei Magnitsky, who accused Kremlin officials and crime bosses of laundering $230 million, some used to purchase U.S. real estate.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, sent a letter to acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente, concerned that the Justice Department has failed to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
"Fusion GPS is the company behind the creation of the unsubstantiated dossier alleging a conspiracy between President Trump and Russia," said Grassley, adding the company appears to be connected to Russian intelligence and Kremlin propaganda.
Magnitsky, a lawyer, and auditor working for Hermitage Capital Management, died in a Russian detention center in 2009 from what reports described as toxic shock and heart failure. He was awaiting trial to testify against Russian government officials on behalf of his company.
Peter Fritsch, a partner at Fusion GPS, told Circa in an email "the case referenced by Sen. Grassley - USA vs. Prevezon Holdings - Fusion GPS was working for the U.S. law firm of Baker Hostetler, at its direction, in a litigation support role."
Fritsch said the work is a matter of public record. "By the very nature of that work, Fusion GPS was working with a law firm to ensure compliance with the law. Fusion GPS was not required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act," he added.
The committee is asking the Justice Department to respond to their questions no later than April 14, 2017:
* What actions, if any, has the Department of Justice taken to enforce FARA’s requirements regarding the parties identified in Mr. Browder’s July 16, 2016, complaint?
*None of the parties involved appear to have registered these activities pursuant to FARA. Why has the Justice Department not required them to register under FARA?
*Has the Justice Department sent letters of inquiry to any of the parties identified in the complaint? If so, please provide copies. If not, why not?
*Under 28 C.F.R. 5.2, any present or prospective agent of a foreign entity may request an advisory opinion from the Justice Department regarding the need to register. Have any of the parties identified in the complaint ever requested an advisory opinion in relation to the pro-Russia work described in this letter? If so, please provide a copy of the request and the opinion.
You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC