One of the most important secrets of Fusion GPS has finally been revealed, and its domino effect promises to have unpredictable consequences. According to unsealed court documents, the firm behind the salacious anti-Trump dossier was paid $523,000 by a Russian businessman convicted of tax fraud and money laundering. His lawyer was Natalia Veselnitskaya, the key figure in the infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, arranged by Fusion GPS associate Rob Goldstone.
Basically, this D.C. opposition research firm is the common denominator linked to two different schemes used to damage the Trump campaign. In other words, Fusion GPS was one of the main weapons in an operation which main goal was to prevent the Republican victory.
Fusion GPS’s documents were unsealed by a federal court in a lawsuit over the firm’s bank records on Tuesday. Apparently, these records were unsealed in response to a ruling made last week by a deferral judge in the district court in Washington, D.C., called Richard Leon.
Naturally, this action revealed new details of payments made in 2016 to this opposition research. In addition, the documents shed new light on requests made by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about payments that the firm made to journalists.
Apparently, the bank documents list 112 transactions involving the firm. Most are redacted, save for transactions between two different law firms that Fusion GPS worked with in 2016 with two Russia-related projects.
The records show that law firm that represented the Clinton campaign and DNC Perkins Coie, paid Fusion GPS a total of $1,024,408 between May 24, 2016 and Dec. 28, 2016. According to the records, Perkins Coie made a $365,275 payment to the opposition research on Oct. 28, 2016.
Basically, the largest payment was made just before the presidential election. Additionally, the payment made to the firm in late-December is even later than previously thought.
One of the most mysterious details of these revelations is that the transaction list doesn’t show payments that Fusion made to the former British spy Christopher Steele. As everyone knows, he was the one who wrote the anti-Trump dossier. In fact, it is known that the firm paid him a total of $168,000 for his work, which lasted from June 2016 until the presidential election.
The records show that the firm was also paid $523,651 by a law firm called BakerHostetler between March 7, 2016 and Oct. 31, 2016. Apparently, Fusion GPS worked for this law firm in order to investigate a London-based banker named Bill Browder. This person helped push through the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law vehemently opposed by the Russian government.
Fusion GPS founding partner and former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson compiled the research for the anti-Browder project. Apparently, this person worked closely with the Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya. His research ended up in the Trump Tower meeting in form of a four-page memo carried by her. She also shared Simpson’s work with Yuri Chaika, the prosecutor general of Russia.
The firm founding partner told the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week that he didn’t know that the Russian lawyer provided the Browder information to Chaika or Donald Trump Jr. Apparently, this last one was the Trump campaign’s point-man in the Trump Tower meeting.
Additionally, Simpson testified that he did not know that the Russian lawyer had visited the Trump Tower until it was reported in media outlets earlier this year. However, many believe it is almost impossible that Simpson had no previous information about the meeting, considering his involvement in this whole operation.
Regarding Fusion´s payment to journalists, the unsealed documents also revealed details of the House committee´s request for records related to this particular action. The document clearly shows that the committee sought records related to five payments made by the firm to “research and Russia expert.” In addition, it sought records related to the production of three additional payments.
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) November 22, 2017
Apparently, the committee also seeks records related to the firm´s payments to journalists who have reported on Russia issues relevant to its investigation. In a memo filed Tuesday, lawyers for the House panel said they are seeking transactions related to nine different payments made to three journalists.
These journalists have reported and been quoted in articles regarding topics related to the Committee´s investigation. On the other hand, it is known that the identities of the journalists are redacted in the filing.
So far, it remains unknown which are these journalists, and especially who is the mysterious “Russia expert” that the firm made various payments to.