There’s a fight brewing in a DC federal court over Fusion GPS’s internal correspondence and records. And they’re losing.
In 2017, the owners of Alfa Bank (we’ll call them Alfa Bank for the purposes of this article) sued Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson for their publication of false statements accusing Alfa Bank of “bribery, extortion, and interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.”
Now, the Alfa Bank is on offense. They have filed a motion to compel, asking the Court to require Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson to produce nearly 500 critically important documents improperly withheld as privileged.
Fusion/Simpson have fought the production of the documents, arguing that they are subject to the “attorney-client privilege” and otherwise privileged and not subject to production.
These are weak legal arguments – and the attorneys for Alfa Bank recognize it. First, Fusion/Simpson previously admitted the purpose of their work was political, and not for the purposes of any ongoing litigation.
Alfa Bank further observes that Glenn Simpson has even testified that the purpose of his work was pure politics, saying his goal was to “to expose an opponent’s vulnerabilities, provide source material for the media, and feed attack ads.”
As their motion argues:
Perkins Coie did not engage Defendants to perform legal or litigation-focused work; rather, Defendants have admitted (and publicly boasted) that Perkins Coie engaged Defendants in a “political context” to perform “political work.”
Second, even if these 500 documents were subject to the attorney-client privilege (and they most certainly are not), that privilege was waived when Simpson/Fusion leaked their research to third parties, including the media and government officials.
One has to be curious about exactly why Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson are putting up such a fight to keep these 500 documents hidden. We think it’s because thus far, the public hasn’t seen the communications between Perkins Coie and Fusion GPS/Glenn Simpson or the internal Fusion GPS correspondence.
What are they hiding? Let’s take a look.
During the Alfa Bank litigation, attorneys for Fusion/Simpson have filed “privilege logs,” which give brief explanations on the type of document and the privilege that prevents its disclosure.
By their very nature, privilege logs don’t reveal much information.
What we see in the latest court filings, however, is that Fusion/Simpson want to keep secret e-mails and attachments that include their ongoing research and likely their internal observations about strategy and the veracity of their work/sources.
For example, recall that Christopher Steele was the source of a Mother Jones article titled “A Veteran Spy has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.”
The David Corn article (which led to the FBI’s “termination” of Steele as an “official” source) was a cause of a lengthy e-mail chain (excerpt below) at Fusion GPS. This discussion even included the obtuse anti-Trump/Barr writer Lloyd Green. (Not that Lloyd Green is important, but more that the outsider included in the e-mails defeats their privilege argument.)