By Mark Hosenball
(Reuters) - The founder of a U.S. research firm that hired a former British spy to compile a dossier describing alleged contacts between U.S. President Donald Trump's associates and Russia has declined to be interviewed by two U.S. congressional committees.
Lawyers for Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, told two House of Representatives committee chairmen in a letter late on Thursday that their client "will not agree to an interview" the committees requested earlier this week.
Spokespeople for the House Oversight and Judiciary committee Republican chairmen did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
The top Democrats on the committees, Elijah Cummings and Jerrold Nadler, in a statement accused the Republicans, who control Congress, of continuing "to abet the President as the walls close in around him."
Fusion GPS was hired by lawyers for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign to conduct research on Trump, her opponent.
The firm in turn hired Christopher Steele, a former officer of MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency, to produce a dossier that outlined alleged Russian financial dealings with Trump, a longtime real estate developer, and included salacious personal details that remain unconfirmed.
The dossier was sent to the FBI, which already had launched an investigation into whether Russian interfered with the election and whether Trump campaign officials worked with Moscow to try to sway the outcome.
The Kremlin denies meddling in the election. Trump, who denies his campaign colluded with Russia, has called Steele's work an "unverified and Fake Dirty Dossier" and has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia.
In their letter, seen by Reuters, Simpson's lawyers said Simpson already had been interviewed by both the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which like all committees are led by Trump's fellow Republicans.
"Part and parcel of this concerted effort by the president's congressional allies has been a campaign of retaliation against the government's whistleblowers, including our client Mr. Simpson, for their willingness to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement and for their exercise of their constitutional rights to free speech and political activity as American citizens," the lawyers wrote.
(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by John Walcott and Howard Goller)
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Updated Date: Sep 29, 2018 01:05:19 IST