Sen. Grassley’s spokesman to Fusion GPS: If you wanted transparency, why did you plead the Fifth?

John Sexton Posted at 10:41 pm on January 03, 2018

Earlier today I wrote about the NY Times op-ed by Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch in which they attacked Republicans and demanded the transcript of their closed-door testimony be released. That op-ed has resulted in a response from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley who points out that Simpson requested the closed-door session and that during the session a lawyer for Fusion GPS explicitly asked that the transcript not be released by the committee. From the Hill:

“Senator Grassley provided Fusion GPS an opportunity for transparency six months ago when he invited the firm to publicly testify at an open committee hearing. Mr. Simpson declined,” said Grassley spokesman Taylor Foy in a statement.

“When faced with a subpoena from the Chairman and Ranking Member, Mr. Simpson refused to provide public testimony, using his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to negotiate for a closed-door interview,” he added…

[Fusion attorney] Mr. Levy is recorded by the court reporter as saying during the interview, ‘We’d like to make a request that it be kept confidential given the sensitivity of the matters discussed today,’” Grassley’s spokesman continued.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the exchange is the snippy response from the Fusion GPS’ attorney:

Levy also suggested the chairman is singling out Simpson, asking why Grassley has not sought to subpoena Donald Trump Jr., former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort or other campaign aides.

In reponse, Grassley’s spokesman Foy noted that Trump Jr. already appeared before the panel and that the committee dropped a subpoena against Manafort “at the request of the committee’s minority.”

Fusion GPS is attacking the Senate investigation in ways that are indistinguishable from the demands being made by Democrats on the House Intel committee this week. As I noted yesterday, Democrats are threatening to write a “minority report” attacking the House effort unless Republicans will recall AG Sessions and Donald Trump Jr. for a second round of questioning. And now Fusion GPS is making similar demands of Grassley’s committee. It might be more than a coincidence that the company chose to go public with the op-ed and attack Republicans the same week that Democrats are pushing this same line of argument in an effort to keep these investigations going for as long as possible and also to discredit any further looks at the Steele dossier. It appears coordinated.