Kamis, 04 Januari 2018

Judge: House panel entitled to Fusion GPS bank records

A federal judge has denied a bid by the private investigation firm Fusion GPS to prevent the House Intelligence Committee from obtaining the firm’s bank records, as part of a congressional probe into the funding and creation of a so-called dossier containing a variety of accurate, inaccurate and salacious claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled Thursday that the House panel’s work appeared to be legitimate. He also rejected Fusion GPS’ claims that confidential information about its clients and sources would be in jeopardy of being leaked if the committee obtained the banking records it is seeking.

“The Subpoena at issue in today’s case,” Leon wrote in a 26-page opinion, “was issued pursuant to a constitutionally authorized investigation by a Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives with jurisdiction over intelligence and intelligence-related activities — activities designed to protect us from potential cyber-attacks now and in the future. The Subpoena seeks the production of records that have a ‘reasonable possibility’ … of producing information relevant to that constitutionally authorized investigation.”

“Although the records sought by the Subpoena are sensitive in nature — and merit the use of appropriate precautions by the Committee to ensure they are not publicly disclosed — the nature of the records themselves, and the Committee’s procedures designed to ensure their confidentiality, more than adequately protect the sensitivity of that information,” the judge added.

Leon dismissed as “conclusory” Fusion GPS’ assertion that its work for political clients would be chilled if the information the House panel demanded was provided to it.

A spokeswoman for Fusion GPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the firm planned to try to stay the ruling pending an appeal. Such a move would need to come quickly since the House panel demanded the records from Fusion’s bank, which is now under a legal obligation to turn them over.

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