Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) are violating settlement agreements with the U.S. government over alleged misreporting of payments that went toward opposition research into Donald Trump, a watchdog says.
The campaign (HFA) and the DNC recently agreed to pay fines to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which determined there was probable cause to believe the entities misreported payments made to a law firm and funneled to the company Fusion GPS.
The entities described the payments as going toward legal services but they actually paid Fusion to create the anti-Trump dossier, the complaint that led to the determination said.
In their conciliation agreements, both HFA and the DNC agreed not to contest the commission’s finding of probable cause.
But in their bids to intervene in a case brought by Special Counsel John Durham, the entities said communications concerning Fusion and lawyer Michael Sussmann are protected by attorney–client privilege.
Those arguments “run directly contrary to the FEC’s probable cause determinations and appear to be barred by HFA’s and the DNC’s conciliation agreements,” Dan Backer, a lawyer representing The Coolidge Reagan Foundation, wrote to Durham’s office in an April 22 letter obtained by The Epoch Times.
The foundation lodged the complaint against the Democrat entities that led to the FEC’s determination.
The FEC has not yet released documents about its review of the complaint. The documents are expected to be released on or around April 30.
The commission dismissed complaints against Fusion, Perkins, and former Perkins lawyer Marc Elias, as well as ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the salacious dossier against Trump that made claims that were later deemed unsubstantiated or untrue by U.S. agencies.
Backer urged the government not to allow the Clinton campaign and the DNC “to adopt conflicting positions in different proceedings, depending on the federal agency against which they are litigating.”
“HFA and the DNC lied on their campaign finance filings to make it appear that Fusion GPS’s opposition research into Donald Trump was performed in connection with legal services. They should not be permitted to peddle these false claims before a federal court,” Backer wrote.
Lawyers for HFA and the DNC did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for Durham’s office declined to comment.
Sussmann is charged with lying to the FBI about data allegedly concerning Trump he brought to the bureau while representing the Clinton campaign in 2016. He is due to go on trial in May.
In a statement submitted to the court, HFA Chairman John Podesta said the campaign was asserting both attorney–client privilege and attorney-work-product protection with respect to “all documents and information under the control of Perkins Coie or any of its consultants, including Fusion GPS.”
DNC lawyers entered a similar filing, saying it wanted to assert privilege over the communications and work product of Perkins and Fusion.
Elias said he tapped Fusion to provide “consulting services in support of the legal advice attorneys at Perkins” were providing to clients, including HFA.
Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson, Fusion’s founders, said in their book that they told Elias they could perform “general-election-focused-research” before they were hired.