Fusion GPS, the research firm responsible for the so-called Steele dossier, defended itself late Tuesday against what it called "mendacious conspiracy theories" spun by Republicans and President Donald Trump.
In its first extensive public comments on the uproar surrounding the company, it claimed its critics were simply "chasing rabbits" to punish it for exposing Trump's links to Russia.
The two founders of the firm, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, penned the commentary, headlined "The Republicans' Fake Investigations" and published in The New York Times.
They accused congressional Republicans of "selectively" leaking to far-right media outlets details of the firm's testimony to congressional committees and called for the full release of the testimony transcripts.
Most of Fusion's commentary was devoted to disputing allegations by Trump allies that the dossier the firm procured provided the impetus for the investigation of connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Republican critics of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into the Trump campaign's links with Russia have repeatedly accused Fusion GPS of fomenting the probe in collaboration with the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, using as bait the dossier of unsubstantiated allegations against Trump prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.
As White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news briefing on Aug. 1, "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 Russian scandal fake news."
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, among others, has suggested that the dossier was "the basis" for government spying on the Trump campaign and called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate.
In their commentary, Simpson and Fritsch said they did not believe the dossier "was the trigger for the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling."
The intelligence committees, wrote the Fusion GPS executives, "have known for months that credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia were pouring in from independent sources during the campaign. Yet lawmakers in the thrall of the president continue to wage a cynical campaign to portray us as the unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation."
Meanwhile, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday night that the panel had reached an agreement with the Justice Department on certain witnesses and documents in its investigation, including materials related to how the FBI used the Steele dossier.
Nunes said in a statement that he believes the department will soon provide the committee with the documents it had requested and access to the witnesses it had wanted to hear from. Nunes said in a statement that he had spoken with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who met privately with House Speaker Paul Ryan earlier in the day.
Nunes had sent Rosenstein a letter last week saying he wanted the information by Wednesday.
In a separate development related to the Russia probes, Trump's former campaign chairman sued Mueller and the Justice Department on Wednesday, saying prosecutors had overstepped their bounds by charging him for conduct that he says is unrelated to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The lawsuit by Paul Manafort, filed in federal court in Washington, is the most direct challenge to date to Mueller's legal authority and the scope of his mandate as special counsel.
A Section on 01/04/2018