- In UK court paper, Steele firm Orbis claims Perkins Coie engaged FusionGPS to provide information on Russian interference in order to challenge 2016 election results
- Elias, in recently declassified testimony by the DNI obfuscates reason for hiring FusionGPS, but does not slam the door on early discussions of Russian interference
- Elias met with Steele, Simpson and others in late September/early October of 2016 to discuss work completed for FusionGPS and Elias
- Elias admits he was aware of leaks of dossier to press, and allowed those leaks to occur
There is an ongoing defamation lawsuit between Alfa Bank principals Mikhail Fridman, Peter Aven, German Khan, and FusionGPS. The three allege that FusionGPS defamed and harmed them in commissioning “Memo 112” of the now infamous Steele dossier, which purports that the three were collaborating with Vladmir Putin, and accuses another lower level Alfa bank employee of criminal misconduct at the behest of Putin.
Within a filing in the FusionGPS case, is an attachment from a related appeal that Fridman, Aven, and Khan filed in litigation they also brought against Orbis (Steele’s company). The filing includes written answers provided by Orbis in matters before the court in the UK. On page 76, is a courtesy copy of a British High Court Filing involving Christopher Steele and Orbis.
Orbis is asked why Perkins Coie needed the information in the memo about Alfa Bank. The response is quite alarming. Orbis answers (emphasis ours) “Fusion’s immediate client was law firm Perkins Coie, LLP. It engaged Fusion to obtain information necessary for Perkins Coie, LLP to provide legal advice on the potential impact of Russian involvement on the legal validity of the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential Election. Based on that advice, parties such as the Democratic National Committee and HFACC Inc. (also known as “Hillary for America”) could consider steps they would be legally entitled to take to challenge the validity of the outcome of the election”
There are serious implications to the testimony. What Orbis is certifying to the UK court, is that when Perkins Coie hired FusionGPS in June of 2016, they did so with the expectation that FusionGPS would provide them information they would need to challenge the validity of the 2016 election, based on Russian interference. The only problem, is that FusionGPS was retained by Perkins Coie much earlier than what is purportedly the start date of the now infamous Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence investigation. The FBI asserts that the Crossfire Hurricane investigation began in late July of 2016, based on a tip about George Papadopoulos meeting with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. The entire premise of that investigation in now under its own scrutiny in the John Durham probe.
As UncoverDC will detail in a moment, there was near constant communication between Elias and FusionGPS principals throughout the duration of the engagement. Marc Elias, when questioned in front of the HPSCI in December of 2017, never mentions a word about Russian interference as he is probed about the odd retention of FusionGPS. From the transcript, we learn that Elias was initially approached by FusionGPS. FusionGPS told Elias that they had done research into candidate Trump for another client, and would be able to assist Perkins Coie in providing information that would be beneficial to the Clinton campaign and DNC. As questioning continues, Trey Gowdy asks Elias specifically whether Simpson told him that there was information pertaining to Russia. Elias leaves his answer somewhat open ended:
Excerpt from HPSCI testimony of Marc Elias
Just a bit later in the conversation, Elias is asked when he first heard the name Christopher Steele. Elias replies that it was June/July of 2016. Gowdy digs deeper and asks when Elias learned that Steele was focused on Russia. Elias replies that it was “late June, early July, mid-July. “ He then goes on to state that he approved the hiring of Orbis as a subcontractor to FusionGPS under their arrangement. There are numerous pages in the transcript where Elias discusses how he uses information from firms like FusionGPS to advise him on legal avenues he may pursue on behalf of the campaign.
Elias also states that he met with Steele at Perkins Coie offices in late September early October, which would have been around the time of the Alfa Bank memo and also when media began reporting on the purported Trump server communicating with Russia via Alfa Bank. He begins by brushing off the importance of the meeting, and through further questioning, we learn that it was a meeting about the work that Steele was doing for FusionGPS. We also learn that Elias held weekly meetings with FusionGPS and was aware of stories that were being provided to the media before those actions were taken. He did not object to the press coverage.
In light of Orbis claim, the transcript with Elias is illuminating, as it raises significant questions about the motives of Perkins Coie, the DNC, and the Clinton campaign. We recommend it be studied in full by our readers for more context. It also invites serious questions about the timing and involvement of Perkins Coie, and a plan to challenge election results based on what is now known to be completely discredited information found in the dossier.
Tracy Beanz is the Founder and Editor in Chief at UncoverDC. You can follow her on Twitter @TracyBeanz