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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, listens to a witness on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, on the second day of a confirmation hearing for Attorney General-designate, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

A battle is brewing between the firm behind the salacious Trump dossier and Sen. Grassley


The firm behind the salacious and unsubstantiated Trump dossier is refusing to to cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee's request to provide documentation or respond to questions sent from the committee in March about the clients who paid for the dossier that launched the investigation into the administration and its alleged Russian connections.

The Republican Chairman of the committee, Senator Charles Grassley, warned Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled the dossier,  in March about its obligation "to provide details on the history of the dossier" including the clients who paid for it.

The committee also wanted information on Christopher Steele, the former British spy who was hired to work on the project and how the FBI came to be involved in the dossier, and if the FBI paid Steele for his work. 

But Fusion GPS,  led by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glen Simpson, told the senator's office both in multiple phone calls and in a letter from the company's attorney, Joshua A. Levy,  that the committees request for information and documents are "protected by the First Amendment right, attorney client privilege, attorney work product, and contractual rights (e.g., confidentiality agreements) of Fusion and/or its clients." 

In a letter to Simpson the committee chided the excuses saying "the minimal and vague explanations your attorney has provided, the Committee cannot adequately assess your claims." 

"Thus, we must presume that they are unfounded," the letter from the committee stated. "Moreover, even if any of these claims were once valid, it appears they may have been waived when Fusion shared various versions of the dossier with journalists, members of Congress, and the FBI." 

Grassley warned the firm that their explanation to not comply with the probe is "flimsy and vague." The committee added that Levy's argument has been previously rejected by the courts, and "neither Fusion GPS nor its attorney sufficiently explained how these protections precluded the firm from cooperating." 

In response to Fusion GPS's refusal Grassley warned the company "to respond to earlier questions about the history of the document" and "to comply with the Committee’s probe."

Fusion GPS and Rinat Akhmetshin, a suspected Soviet agent, lobbied on behalf of the Kremlin against a U.S. law targeting Russian officials suspected of involvement in the death of a whistleblower.

The law, known as the Global Magnitsky Act, which passed in 2012 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. Grassley's office is also investigating this lobbying connection.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC

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