Senators to scrutinize foreign agents - but not Trump Jr

But Fusion GPS countered that it worked only with a law firm in NY "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). In terms of Veselnitskaya's connection to Fusion GPS, Graham said it was important to investigate whether they came across any information that could compromise the president. The dossier contained numerous allegations about Donald Trump and the campaign, some of them unsubstantiated. "It was not required to register under FARA, and it did not spread false information about William Browder or Sergei Magnitsky".

"It's also hard for me to believe that once the Trump campaign expressed a desire to get help - "Yeah, I love it - maybe later in the summer" - that that meeting was one and done", he said.

"The Russians were involved on both sides".

The Magnitsky Act was named for the late Segei Magnitsky, a Russian tax lawyer who was hired in 2007 by American Bill Browder, an investment banker working in Russia, to look into why Russian police raided, then seized his company's offices and took $239 million that was earmarked for taxes. "To go and ask the possible future next president of the United States to repeal a major piece of human rights legislation, they wouldn't have gone and said, please, can you repeal this for us, without having something to offer in return". Simpson's lawyers, after first trying to explain Simpson was on vacation overseas and couldn't participate, then notified the committee that their client would "invoke his Fifth Amendment rights" and decline to testify. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Simpson had struck a deal to testify in private, avoiding a public questioning and negating his need to plead the Fifth.

Grassley's interest in Fusion GPS is not exclusively about the Magnitsky Act.

Fusion GPS has denied that it was lobbying and has said it was simply doing legal research for Baker Hostetler on the Prevezon case, which settled in May with no admission of guilt by Prevezon. Meanwhile, information in its often-salacious Trump dossier could not be confirmed by USA intelligence agencies.

The witnesses are three officials from the Justice Department and the FBI, including one - Assistant FBI Director Bill Priestap, who has already appeared in at least one hearing in the Russian Federation imbroglio. But Browder fought back, giving an affadavit to the Justice Department accusing Fusion of acting in the interests of Russian Federation without registering as a foreign lobbying company.

Sen. Lindsey Graham's nearly entire line of questioning on Thursday focused on the seeming contradiction in the fact that Russian Federation allegedly has ties to a company behind the controversial and unverified dossier on Trump while Russian Federation was also rooting for Trump to win on Election Day, according to to the emails exchanges with Trump Jr. prior to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

Nevertheless, Grassley and the committee's ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) tied the two issues together by calling on Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort to testify at the hearing.

The absence of Mr. Trump Jr. and Mr. Manafort took much of the suspense out of the hearing.

"I'm not sure", Sanders told reporters. "This is just an addition to it at the end".

So did a third player in the Russian Federation imbroglio who so far hasn't had anything like the public profiles of the other characters: Glenn Simpson, the founder of the political research shop Fusion GPS, which originated the infamous, unverified dossier of allegations against Trump that exploded onto the scene ahead of his inauguration earlier this year.

Vanessa Coleman

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