Senate Democrats used a parliamentary maneuver Wednesday to cut short a high-profile hearing, where a key witness was set to testify on Russia’s misdeeds and also raise fresh allegations against the company behind the infamous anti-Trump dossier.
Bill Browder, the CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital, was set to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that the co-founder of the firm Fusion GPS was hired to conduct a “smear campaign” against him. Further, he planned to testify the campaign was orchestrated by Natalia Veselnitskaya — the Russian attorney who sought the highly scrutinized Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort in June 2016.
Browder released written testimony ahead of the hearing but his public remarks were delayed when Democrats invoked the “two-hour rule” to protest Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare. The seldom-used rule bars committees from meeting more than two hours after the full Senate begins a session.
Browder now is expected to testify Thursday, but his statement makes clear that he will have plenty to say about Fusion GPS, the shadowy intel company founded by a pair of former Wall Street Journal reporters, including Glenn Simpson.
“Veselnitskaya, through Baker Hostetler, hired Glenn Simpson of the firm Fusion GPS to conduct a smear campaign against me and Sergei Magnitsky in advance of congressional hearings on the Global Magnitsy Act,” Browder wrote in his prepared testimony, adding that the firm helped to organize a Washington D.C.-based premiere of a “fake documentary” about Magnitsky and himself.
“While they were conducting these operations in Washington D.C., at no time did they indicate that they were acting on behalf of Russian government interests, nor did they file disclosures under the Foreign Agent Registration Act,” Browder’s prepared testimony said.