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Bill Browder stands by claims that Russia paid firm behind the anti-Trump dossier

A key witness’ to a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing exploring Russian meddling in the 2016 election has reaffirmed his testimony that the secretive Washington firm, Fusion GPS, which commissioned the sensational anti-Trump campaign research dossier, received payment from the Kremlin.

Last week a Washington Post “Fact Checker” article assessed a statement by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders in which she said, “The Democrat-linked firm Fusion GPS actually took money from the Russian government while it created the phony dossier that’s been the basis for all of the Russia scandal fake news.”

The article — which awarded Mrs. Sanders “Three Pinocchios” for what it deemed were misrepresentations — concluded that: “Moreover, there is no evidence Fusion took money from the Russian government. It worked on behalf of an American law firm, which was hired by a company owned by a Russian whose father is a government official. Even [Bill] Browder, a fierce critic of Fusion, said in an interview the White House is “conflating two issues.”

Responding to the article, Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Charles Grassley wrote British-American businessman and anti-Kremlin crusader Bill Browder — who testified late last month before the Senate panel.

At the time, Mr. Browder asserted that “Fusion GPS took money from the Russian government; and second that it did so while it was working on the Trump dossier,” according to Mr. Grassley’s letter, which he released Thursday.

On Tuesday, Mr. Browder responded with a letter to Mr. Grassley stating that he stood by his “testimony that Fusion GPS received money from the Russian government” in addition to reiterating and expanding on several points he made to the committee he felt the Washington Post fact checkers overlooked or excluded. Mr. Grassley made the contents of the Browder response public Thursday evening.

Those points included additional information about methods the Russian government uses to arrange overseas propaganda work and how it pays for that work through proxies.

Last month’s Senate hearing also focused on whether Fusion GPS should have registered as a foreign agent for its work to sway public perception against human rights sanctions imposed on the Russian government. Mr. Browder has been the driving force behind those sanctions — known as the Magnitsky Act.

The law was enacted by the Obama administration in 2012 to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian lawyer and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009. Mr. Magnitsky served as an attorney for Mr. Browder. Before its work on the Trump dossier, Fusion GPS worked on efforts to repeal the Magnitsky Act.

In his letter Tuesday, Mr. Browder also provided a timeline of work conducted by Fusion GPS in 2016 and argued that the firm should have been required to register as a foreign agent.

Co-founded by Glenn R. Simpson, Fusion GPS has been central to the Russian election-meddling saga ever since the salacious anti-Trump dossier, which alleged a years-long Kremlin conspiracy to elect Donald Trump and included colorful sex stories, was leaked to the press after Mr. Trump’s stunning election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

A former Wall Street Journal reporter, Mr. Simpson hired ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele in 2015 to compile opposition research on candidate Trump.

Reportedly sourced from the Kremlin, the dossier received initial financial support from anti-Trump Republicans before it was taken over and distributed by Democrats. It contained a lurid and largely discredited tale of a years-long Russian effort to elect the former reality TV star and property developer, including colorful sex stories.

The White House vigorously denounced the allegations as a “pile of garbage” after online news service BuzzFeed posted all 35 pages.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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