The commercial research company behind the infamous Trump dossier alleging ties between then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russia has a history of conducting smear campaigns, according to congressional testimony from a man who was investigating a Venezuelan corruption scandal that spanned continents.
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Thor Halvorssen, CEO of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, alleged during an interview with FOX Business’ Liz MacDonald that while he was researching reports of corruption at Derwick Associates, the Venezuelan power company hired Washington-based company Fusion GPS to spike the stories by spreading misinformation about him.
“These are smear artists,” he said Wednesday on “Risk & Reward.” “And what they’ve learned is, if you want to kill an investigation, if you want to destroy a law enforcement investigation, go after the witnesses, go after the whistleblowers.”
Halvorssen testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2017 against Fusion GPS, during which he outlined his allegations against the company. In 2012, Halvorssen said Derwick Associates received 12 powerplant contracts, despite lacking the qualifications, because of its willingness to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes to Venezuelan government officials, which at the time was controlled by Hugo Chavez.
When Halvorssen began questioning why the company was receiving these bids, and why reporters weren’t covering the story, Derwick Associates hired Fusion GPS to manufacture misinformation about him, he said.
That included sending a Wall Street Journal reporter -- who was writing about Derwick Associates and relying on Halvorssen as a source -- a dossier painting Halvorssen as a heroin addict, a pedophile and an embezzler.
“I’m one of many people they’ve victimized,” he said. “Make no mistake, they are out to destroy people. That’s what Fusion GPS is about.”
Others have said the company reportedly conducts investigations into Republicans on behalf of Democrats, the most notable involving President Trump. In early October, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) began investigating the company, which was started by three former reporters in 2011, for its role in the unsubstantiated Trump dossier.
The Washington Post reported that Marc E. Elias, an attorney representing the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, retained Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research -- resulting in the dossier. Prior to that, an unknown Republican client had been funding the research during the GOP primary, according to the Post.