Fusion GPS

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Fusion GPS
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Key people
Glenn R. Simpson

Fusion GPS is a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm based in Washington, D.C. The company conducts open-source investigations and provides research and strategic advice for businesses, law firms and investors, as well as for political inquiries, such as opposition research.[1] The "GPS" initialism is derived from "Global research, Political analysis, Strategic insight".[2]


The company was co-founded in 2011 by Glenn R. Simpson, a former investigative reporter and journalist for Roll Call and The Wall Street Journal and Peter Fritsch, a former Wall Street Journal senior editor.[3]


Opposition research on Mitt Romney[edit]

Fusion GPS was hired in 2012 to do opposition research on U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney.[3] In February 2012, the magazine Mother Jones published an article on Frank VanderSloot and his company Melaleuca, who combined had given $1 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. After the article was published, an intern at Fusion GPS did a search of Idaho court records on VanderSloot by phone and fax. In January 2013, VanderSloot sued Mother Jones for defamation in the February 2012 article. In the course of the litigation, VanderSloot deposed Fusion GPS founder Simpson on the "theory that Mother Jones conspired with Obama's team to defame VanderSloot".[4][5][6] The seventh Judicial District Court of the State of Idaho dismissed the lawsuit in 2015.[7]

Planned Parenthood[edit]

In August 2015, Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to defensively investigate the veracity of a series of undercover videos released by anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt from The Center for Medical Progress that they claim showed Planned Parenthood officials agreeing to sell fetal tissues obtained through abortions to medical researchers. Fusion GPS hired video and transcription experts to analyze the videos and summarized the findings in a forensic report.[8] The report claimed that the "unedited" videos posted by activists had been "heavily edited". The anti-abortion activists attributed the gaps to "bathroom breaks and waiting periods."[9] The report was provided to U.S. congressional leadership as evidence as they were considering funding and other issues related to Planned Parenthood operations.[10]

After a grand jury declined to indict Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, on March 28, 2017, Daleiden and Merritt were charged with 15 felonies in the State of California - one for each of the people whom they had filmed without consent, and one for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.[10] On 21 June 2017, fourteen of these charges were dismissed, with leave to amend, on the grounds that they were legally insufficient.[11] On June 30, 2017, state prosecutors refiled the 14 dismissed charges with numerical identifications for each video.[12][13] On August 24, 2017, the San Francisco Superior Court rejected new defense motions to dismiss the charges and allowed the case to proceed. Daleiden then pleaded not guilty, while Merritt did not enter a plea at the time.[13]

In December 2019, Judge Christopher Hite ruled that Daleiden and Merritt will stand trial on nine felony counts involving eavesdropping and invasion of privacy.[14] At the February 2020 arraignment, Daleiden and Sandra Merritt pleaded not guilty.[15] On Daleiden and Merritt's appeal, Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos decided in July 2020 that prosecutors could try Daleiden on nine counts and Merritt on eight.[16]

Prevezon Holding[edit]

In 2013, the US Department of Justice, represented by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, sued Prevezon Holding, a Republic of Cyprus corporation registered in New York State as a foreign business corporation, under the Magnitsky Act for money-laundering part of $230 million in stolen funds. The lawsuit sought forfeiture of various assets and real estate holdings in the US.[17] In May 2017, the lawsuit was settled for $6 million, less than half what Bharara sought,[18] without Prevezon admitting to any wrongdoing and with both sides claiming victory.[17][19]

The sole shareholder of Prevezon was Russian citizen Denis Katsyv, whose father is Petr Katsyv, vice president of Russia's state-run rail monopoly and "reportedly a business associate of Vladimir Yakunin, a confidant of Vladimir Putin".[20] Katsyv's Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was not licensed to practice in the US, and Katsyv hired the law firm of BakerHostetler to represent Prevezon; BakerHostetler hired Fusion GPS in early 2014 to provide research help for the litigation, who later on hired Edward Baumgartner for work on discovery.[21][22][20][23]

On October 18, 2016, the appellate court disqualified BakerHostetler from the case because they had represented Bill Browder’s hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management for nine months from 2008 to 2009 when the U.S. Justice Department was investigating a tax fraud scheme in Russia involving "co-opted Hermitage portfolio companies". The U.S. Justice Department had argued that Hermitage Capital was a victim of the tax fraud and that BakerHofstetler's prior work on behalf of Hermitage Capital created a conflict of interest.[24][21] As part of their litigation support for BakerHostetler and their client Prevezon, Fusion GPS investigated Browder, a witness central to the U.S. Justice Department's case.[25]

On July 27, 2017, Fusion GPS accused the White House of trying to "smear" it for investigating the president's alleged ties to Russia. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to Browder's testimony as vindication of Trump's claims that ongoing investigations into potential ties between his campaign and Moscow are political ploys to undermine his presidency. Fusion GPS countered that it worked only with a law firm in New York "to provide support for civil litigation" unrelated to Russian efforts to do away with the Magnitsky Act, saying it had no reason to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).[26]

Browder lodged a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department in 2016 that Fusion GPS may have lobbied "for Russian interests in a campaign to oppose the pending Global Magnitsky Act [and] failed to register under [U.S. law]".[22][27] The US Global Magnitsky Act (not to be confused with the Magnitsky Act) is a human rights law passed on December 23, 2016.[28] It is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer and auditor working for Browder who died in a Russian prison after uncovering a corruption scheme that he was then charged with having helped concoct.[20]

On March 30, 2017, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into purported connections between Fusion GPS and Russia, and an inquiry as to whether Fusion GPS was acting as an unregistered foreign agent. The company denied the claims that they were engaged in lobbying or had violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[27][22] According to the Washington Post′s "Fact Checker" column, there is "no evidence that the Russian government paid for Fusion’s work on the Prevezon defense at the same time Fusion investigated Trump’s business dealings in Russia."[29]

Trump–Russia dossier and Christopher Steele[edit]

In September 2015, Fusion GPS was hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative political website, to do opposition research on Trump and other Republican presidential candidates. In spring 2016 when Trump had emerged as the probable Republican candidate, the Free Beacon stopped funding investigation into Trump.[30] From April 2016 through October 2016, the law firm Perkins Coie, on behalf of the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee, retained Fusion GPS to continue opposition research on Trump.[31][32][33] In June 2016, Fusion GPS retained Christopher Steele, a private British corporate intelligence investigator and former MI-6 agent, to research any Russian connections to Trump. Steele produced a 35-page series of uncorroborated memos from June to December 2016, which became the document known as the Steele dossier.[31][34] Fusion GPS provided Marc Elias, the lead election lawyer for Perkins Coie, with the resulting dossier and other research documents.[32][33]

The firm is being sued for defamation by three Alfa-Bank owners named in the dossier as connected to Putin. German Khan, one of the litigants and one of Russia's wealthiest citizens, is the father-in-law of lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who was charged in the Mueller probe for making false statements to the FBI.[35] He pleaded guilty to one count and in April 2018 was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a fine of $20,000.[36][37]

House Intelligence Committee investigation[edit]

On October 4, 2017, Chairman Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to the management of the company, demanding documents and testimony in late October and early November 2017. According to a Democratic committee source, the subpoenas were issued unilaterally by the Republican majority of the committee.[38]

On October 18, 2017, the House Intelligence Committee held a private meeting with two executives of Fusion GPS, Peter Fritsch, and Thomas Catan. The purpose was to seek information about their creation of "the opposition-research dossier that makes salacious claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia."[39] The meeting was attended by committee staff and a single committee member, Representative Tom Rooney (R-FL). In response to the questions asked at the meeting, Fritsch and Catan invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Their attorney, Joshua Levy, said that prior to the meeting he had informed the committee in writing that his clients would invoke their rights, but they were compelled to appear nevertheless. He added they would cooperate with "serious" investigations but that a "Trump cabal has carried out a campaign to demonize our client for having been tied to the Trump dossier."[39][40]

On October 23, 2017, Fusion GPS filed for a court injunction against Nunes' subpoena seeking the firm's bank records for a period of more than two years, arguing it would damage and possibly destroy the business as well as violate their First Amendment rights.[41] On January 4, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon struck down Fusion's application, ruling that Fusion's bank must turn over the financial records subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee; Fusion asked the judge to stay his order because they plan to appeal.[42]

On October 28, 2017, The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative political website, told the House Intelligence Committee that it had retained Fusion GPS's services from 2015 to May 2016, to research Donald Trump and other Republican presidential candidates. The objective was the discovery of damaging information. The Free Beacon and its primary source of funding, hedge fund manager Paul Singer, denied any involvement in the creation of the Steele dossier, pointing out that they had stopped funding research on Trump before Steele was engaged.[30]

On January 2, 2018, the founders of Fusion GPS, Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch, authored an op-ed in The New York Times, requesting that Republicans "release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony" and further explaining that, "the Steele dossier was not the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp."[43]

The committee interviewed Simpson for seven hours on November 14, 2017. The transcript of the interview was released on January 18, 2018.[44][45]

Senate Judiciary Committee investigations[edit]

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein made arrangements in July 2017 for Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to testify before their committee. It was agreed that Simpson would not testify in public but would be interviewed privately.[46][47] The committee wanted to question Simpson about the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). A previous witness, banker and human rights activist Bill Browder, had accused Simpson and Fusion GPS of evading registration as foreign agents for campaigning to influence and overturn the Magnitsky Act.[26] Fusion GPS said through their attorney that they were not required to register under FARA.[26] Senators were expected to also use the hearing "to press Justice Department officials on what they know about Veselnitskaya, Prevezon, Fusion GPS and their connections to both the Trump campaign or the Russian government."[48]

On August 22, 2017, Simpson was questioned for 10 hours by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a closed-door meeting. The Committee did not release a transcript of the hearing, but indicated that Fusion GPS had given more than 40,000 documents for the investigation.[49] Simpson kept the identities of the firm's clients confidential;[50][51] the client names—conservative website The Washington Free Beacon,[30] and the law firm Perkins Coie representing the DNC and the Clinton presidential campaign[32]—were revealed in October 2017 as a result of the House Intelligence Committee investigation.

On January 2, 2018, Simpson and Fritsch co-authored an op-ed in The New York Times, requesting the two congressional committees to "release full transcripts of our firm's testimony".[43] On January 8, 2018, a spokesman for Grassley said he did not plan to release the transcript of Simpson's August 22, 2017, testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[52] The next day, January 9, 2018, Feinstein unilaterally released the transcript.[53][54]


Filed by Fridman, Aven, and Khan[edit]

In October 2017, Fridman, Aven, and Khan filed a libel suit against Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson for circulating the dossier among journalists and allowing it to be published.[55] The lawsuit was continuing as of October 2020.[56]

Filed by Cohen[edit]

On January 9, 2018, Michael Cohen sued BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS for defamation over allegations about him in the dossier.[57] On April 19, 2018, ten days after his home, office and hotel room were raided by the FBI as part of a criminal investigation, Cohen filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss the suit.[58][59][60]

Shervin Pishevar[edit]

Billionaire Shervin Pishevar, the victim of a fake police report indicating that he raped a woman in a London hotel in May 2017, has alleged in court that Fusion GPS created the forgery, then leaked it to a reporter at Fast Company in order to defame his character. [61]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fusion GPS – Investigative reporting approach to investment research". Integrity Research. April 7, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  2. ^ "About Fusion", archived version of Fusion GPS web site from July 2011
  3. ^ a b McBride, Jessica (March 30, 2017). "Fusion GPS: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  4. ^ Jeffery, Clara; Bauerlein, Monika (October 8, 2015). "We Were Sued by a Billionaire Political Donor. We won. Here's What Happened". Mother Jones. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  5. ^ "Motion to Squash Subpoena" (PDF). D.C. Anti-SLAPP Law. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 8, 2021. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  6. ^ Strassel, Kim (May 10, 2012). "Strassel: Trolling for Dirt on the President's List". FrankVanderslootResponse. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  7. ^ "Case Analysis". Global Freedom of Expression. Columbia University. October 6, 2015. Retrieved July 23, 2016. Case Number CV-2013-532.
  8. ^ Hemingway, Mark (August 27, 2015). "Politico & NYT Fail to Mention Report Exonerating Planned Parenthood Produced By Democratic Opposition Research Firm". Weekly Standard. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  9. ^ Haberkorn, Jennifer (August 27, 2015). "Report for Planned Parenthood finds sting videos manipulated". Politico.com. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Hamilton, Matt (March 28, 2017). "Two Antiabortion Activists behind Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos Charged with 15 Felonies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  11. ^ Bob Egelko (June 21, 2017). "SF judge deals setback to prosecutors in abortion sting videos". Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  12. ^ Egelko, Bob (July 7, 2017). "California files more charges against antiabortion activists". SfGate. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  13. ^ a b News, Bay City (August 24, 2017). "SF court ruling allows felony charges to proceed against anti-abortion activists". Daily Herald. Retrieved October 10, 2017. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  14. ^ Dinzeo, Maria (December 6, 2019). "Abortion Foes Will Face Criminal Charges in Undercover Video Case". Courthouse News. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  15. ^ Dinzeo, Maria (February 21, 2020). "Anti-Abortion Activists Arraigned in Criminal Invasion of Privacy Case". Courthouse News. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  16. ^ Egelko, Bob (July 29, 2020). "Case to go forward against two antiabortion activists who recorded conversations". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  17. ^ a b MacFarquhar, Neil; Kramer, Andrew E. (July 11, 2017). "Natalia Veselnitskaya, Lawyer Who Met Trump Jr., Seen as Fearsome Moscow Insider". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 12, 2017. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  18. ^ US vs Prevezon case settled
  19. ^ Feeley, Jef; Van Voris, Bob (May 13, 2017). "Laundering Suit Ends as Russian Firm, U.S. Claim Victory". Bloomberg. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  20. ^ a b c Matt Taibbi (July 14, 2017). "Russiagate and the Magnitsky Affair, Linked Again". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  21. ^ a b Frankel, Alison (October 18, 2016). "2nd Circuit disqualifies BakerHostetler from forfeiture case in rare mandamus grant". Reuters Blog. Archived from the original on December 23, 2016. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  22. ^ a b c Eckel, Mike (April 1, 2017). "U.S. Senator Seeks Probe Of Firm Linked To Russia Dossier". RadioFreeEurope. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  23. ^ Eckel, Mike (January 18, 2016). "In U.S. Money-Laundering Case, Shades Of Russian Corruption". RadioFreeEurope. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
  24. ^ Dilanian, Ken (July 24, 2017). "The Legal Battle Behind the Trump Tower Meeting". NBC News. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  25. ^ Matthews, Christopher M. (May 13, 2015). "Hedge-Fund Manager's Credibility Questioned in Russian Laundering Case". The Wall Street Journal.
  26. ^ a b c Greenwood, Max; Wilson, Megan (July 27, 2017). "Fusion GPS: White House Trying To Smear Us On Russia". The Hill. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  27. ^ a b Arnsdorf, Isaac (December 16, 2016). "FARA Complaint Alleges Pro-Russian Lobbying". Politico. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  28. ^ "The US Global Magnitsky Act: Questions and Answers". www.hrw.org. Human Rights Watch. September 13, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  29. ^ Kessler, Glenn (August 9, 2017). "Trump, Russia and the opposition research firm run by ex-journalists". Washington Post. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  30. ^ a b c Vogel, Kenneth P.; Haberman, Maggie (October 27, 2017). "Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier". The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  31. ^ a b Confessore, Scott Shane, Nicholas; Rosenberg, Matthew (January 11, 2017). "How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  32. ^ a b c Entous, Adam; Barrett, Devlin; Helderman, Rosalind S. (October 24, 2017). "Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  33. ^ a b Vogel, Kenneth P. (October 24, 2017). "Clinton Campaign and Democratic Party Helped Pay for Russia Trump Dossier". The New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  34. ^ Blum, Howard (March 30, 2017). "How ex-spy Christopher Steele compiled his explosive dossier". Vanity Fair. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  35. ^ Hsu, Spencer S.; Helderman, Rosalind S. (February 20, 2018). "In Mueller probe, son-in-law of Russian businessman pleads guilty to false statements". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  36. ^ Johnson, Kevin (April 3, 2018). "Lawyer connected to Russia election interference investigation receives 30-day sentence". USA TODAY. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  37. ^ LaFraniere, Sharon (April 3, 2018). "Ex-Skadden Lawyer Is Sentenced to 30 Days in Russia Inquiry". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  38. ^ Perez, Evan; Raju, Manu; Herb, Jeremy (October 11, 2017). "Nunes signs off on new subpoenas to firm behind Trump–Russia dossier". CNN. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  39. ^ a b House, Billy (October 18, 2017). "Executives of Firm Tied to Trump Dossier Take the Fifth at Committee Meeting". Bloomberg.com.
  40. ^ Green, Miranda (October 22, 2017). "Fusion GPS asks court to stop lawmakers from seeing financial records". CNN. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  41. ^ Bertrand, Natasha (October 24, 2017). "The firm behind the Trump–Russia dossier is fighting to shield its bank records from Devin Nunes". Business Insider. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  42. ^ Polantz, Katelyn (January 5, 2018). "Fusion GPS fighting order to turn over bank records". CNN. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  43. ^ a b Simpson, Glenn R.; Fritsch, Peter (2018). "Opinion | The Republicans' Fake Investigations". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  44. ^ Dukakis, Ali; Madden, Pete (January 18, 2018). "House Intel committee has released a transcript from their interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson". ABC News. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  45. ^ Tucker, Eric (January 18, 2018). "Transcript: Trump dossier first focused on real estate deals". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 19, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  46. ^ "The Latest: Senate Panel Subpoenas Manafort to Testify". U.S. News & World Report. July 25, 2017. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  47. ^ Greenwood, Max (July 26, 2017). "Co-founder of firm tied to Trump dossier agrees to speak to Senate panel". The Hill. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  48. ^ Logan, Bryan (July 21, 2017). "Senate Intel Committee Subpoenas The Research Firm Tied To The Bombshell Trump–Russia Dossier". Business Insider. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  49. ^ Dukakis, Ali; Mosk, Matthew (August 22, 2017). "Attorney: Glenn Simpson did not reveal clients for Trump 'dossier' to investigators". ABC News. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  50. ^ "Fusion GPS co-founder meets with congressional investigators". Politico. Associated Press. August 22, 2017. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  51. ^ Singman, Brooke (August 22, 2017). "Trump dossier figure questioned behind closed doors on Capitol Hill". Fox News. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  52. ^ Dennis, Steven T. (January 8, 2018). "Grassley Won't Release Fusion GPS Transcript From Russia Probe". Bloomberg News. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  53. ^ Barrett, Devlin; Hamburger, Tom (January 9, 2018). "Feud over Trump dossier intensifies with release of interview transcript". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  54. ^ Fandos, Nicholas; Rosenberg, Matthew; LaFraniere, Sharon (January 9, 2018). "Democratic Senator Releases Transcript of Interview with Dossier Firm". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  55. ^ Gerstein, Josh (October 4, 2017). "3 Russians named in Trump dossier sue Fusion GPS for libel". Politico. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  56. ^ Filkins, Dexter (October 7, 2020). "The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  57. ^ Jacobs, Jennifer (January 9, 2018). "Trump Lawyer Sues BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS on Russia Dossier Claims". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved January 16, 2018. Cohen said he's mentioned in the dossier 15 times.
  58. ^ Gerstein, Josh (April 19, 2018). "Cohen drops libel suits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS". Politico. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  59. ^ Abbruzzese, Jason (April 19, 2018). "Trump lawyer Michael Cohen drops lawsuit against BuzzFeed over Steele dossier". NBC News. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  60. ^ Strobel, Warren; Walcott, John (April 9, 2018). "FBI raids offices, home of Trump's personal lawyer: sources". Reuters. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  61. ^ Moynihan, Lydia (February 23, 2023). "'Steele Dossier' firm Fusion GPS tied to bogus rape report against billionaire". New York Post. Retrieved February 24, 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • Simpson, Glenn; Fritsch, Peter (November 26, 2019). Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump. Random House. ISBN 978-0593134160.

External links[edit]