Grassley Probes Opposition Research Firm behind Unsubstantiated Trump Dossier
Mar 27, 2017
Fusion GPS worked for multiple Trump Opponents before FBI sought partnership
WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is requesting information from the political opposition research firm Fusion GPS on the history of the controversial and unsubstantiated dossier compiled for its clients against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. The firm was reportedly paid by backers of Trump’s Republican and Democrat opponents during the campaign, and contracted with former British spy Christopher Steele to create it.
The dossier was the product of blatant political and financial motives, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has stated that “the [intelligence community] has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.” Yet, Fusion GPS and Steele reportedly shared the dossier with the FBI, which then offered to pay Steele to continue his political opposition research on Trump. Grassley has already written to the FBI seeking details about its reported arrangement with Steele, and to determine the extent to which the FBI has relied on the political dossier in its investigation.
In a letter to Fusion GPS, Grassley is seeking details on the history of arrangements that funded the opposition research behind the dossier, including the FBI’s involvement.
“When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics,” Grassley said in the letter.
Grassley is calling on Fusion GPS to provide details on the history of the dossier, including the clients who sought the research and the terms of their engagement. He also wants to know when Steele was hired to work on the project, how the FBI came to be involved and whether Fusion GPS was aware of any arrangements by the FBI to pay Steele. He is further seeking documents related to the dossier’s history and arrangements between Fusion GPS and its clients.
Full text of the letter follows:
March 24, 2017
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
Mr. Glenn R. Simpson
Washington, DC 20535
Dear Mr. Simpson:
I am writing to inquire about Fusion GPS’s opposition research efforts regarding President Trump, particularly the dossier compiled for your company by Mr. Christopher Steele. According to press accounts: a Republican opposed to Mr. Trump hired your company to compile opposition research on him; your company then hired Mr. Steele to investigate Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia after evidence emerged last June regarding Russian hacking of Democratic targets; and once it became clear that Mr. Trump would be the Republican nominee, Democrats supporting Secretary Clinton’s campaign began to pay for the research. The New York Times also reported that “Fusion GPS and Mr. Steele shared the memos first with their clients, and later with the FBI and multiple journalists at the New York Times and elsewhere.” Last month, the Washington Post reported that a few weeks before the election, the FBI had reached an agreement with Mr. Steele to pay him to continue his work, noting that “[t]he revelation that the FBI agreed to pay Steele at the same time he was being paid by Clinton supporters to dig into Trump’s background could further strain relations between the law enforcement agency and the White House.”
When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics. The Committee requires additional information to evaluate this situation. Please answer the following questions and provide the requested documents by April 7, 2017:
- Who first hired your company to conduct opposition research relating to Mr. Trump and his associates? When did this engagement begin and end? What were the terms of the engagement? Please provide copies of all related contracts. In total, how much did this first client pay Fusion GPS for this work?
- In addition to the first client, who else hired Fusion GPS to conduct or continue opposition research relating to Mr. Trump and his associates? When did those engagements begin and end? What were the terms of the engagements? Please provide copies of all related contracts. In total, how much did each additional client pay Fusion GPS for this work?
- When did Fusion GPS arrange for Mr. Steele and/or Orbis Business Intelligence to investigate Mr. Trump and his associates? When, if ever, did this arrangement conclude? What were the terms of the arrangement? Please provide copies of all related contracts. In total, how much did Fusion GPS or your clients pay Mr. Steele and/or Orbis Business Intelligence for this work?
- Please provide copies of all memoranda or other types of reports that Mr. Steele and/or Orbis Business Intelligence provided Fusion GPS in the course of this engagement.
- To whom did Fusion GPS provide the dossier or any other memoranda created by Mr. Steele and/or Orbis Business Intelligence? Please list all recipients, the materials they received, and the dates the materials were provided.
- Did any of Fusion GPS’s clients instruct, request, suggest, or imply that the dossier should be provided to the FBI or that Mr. Steele should otherwise contact the FBI regarding the investigation? If so, please describe the client’s actions and provide all related documents.
- Did anyone from Fusion GPS instruct, request, suggest, or imply that Mr. Steele should provide the dossier to the FBI or otherwise contact the FBI regarding the investigation?
- Did any of Fusion GPS’s clients instruct, request, suggest, or imply that efforts should be made to get the FBI to pay for Mr. Steele and/or Orbis Business Intelligence to continue the investigation of Mr. Trump and his associates? If so, please describe the actions and provide all related documents.
- Was Fusion GPS aware of efforts to have the FBI pay Mr. Steele for his investigation? Was Fusion GPS involved in any way in this reported arrangement? Did Fusion GPS inform its clients or former clients about the FBI’s arrangement with Mr. Steele? Please provide all relevant communications.
- To the best of Fusion GPS’s knowledge, was Mr. Steele ever simultaneously paid by Fusion GPS (or its clients) and the FBI for his investigation of Mr. Trump and his associates, including any payments for his travel expenses? If so, when did the simultaneous payments occur and how much was paid?
- Has anyone from Fusion GPS met with anyone from the FBI or Department of Justice regarding matters related to Mr. Trump or his associates? If so, when were the meetings, who attended, and what was discussed?
- When did Mr. Steele first communicate with the FBI regarding his investigation of Mr. Trump and his associates? How many meetings did Mr. Steele have with the FBI in total? What was discussed at each meeting and who participated from any government agency? Please include the date and location of each meeting, as well as who paid for Mr. Steele’s travel expenses, if any.
- Please provide all records relating to communications between Fusion GPS and the Department of Justice, including the FBI, or any intelligence agency regarding Donald Trump, the Trump campaign, or his associates.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. If you have any questions, please contact Patrick Davis of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225.
Charles E. Grassley
Committee on the Judiciary
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
 Shane Scott, What We Know and Don’t Know About the Trump-Russia Dossier, The New York Times (Jan. 11, 2017).
 Tom Hamburger and Rosalind Helderman, FBI Once Planned to Pay Former British Spy Who Authored Controversial Trump Dossier, The Washington Post (Feb. 28, 2017).