A federal judge’s refusal to handle Fusion GPS has observers speculating what connection she might have to the notorious Trump dossier firm.
Obama appointee Tanya S. Chutkan recused herself on Monday from a case involving subpoenas for the dossier-producing research firm Fusion GPS. Chutkan is a district judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
In the case, Russian tech executive Aleksej Gubarev sought subpoenas for Fusion GPS to learn more about the firm’s work on him.
The dossier claimed Gubarev hacked Democrats’ computer systems, an allegation he denies. In response, Gubarev has filed a defamation lawsuit against Buzz Feed, the news site that published the dossier.
Chutkan recused herself from the case, letting it be taken up by Trump appointee Trevor McFadden.
Last month, she recused herself from a case in which Fusion GPS sued its bank, TD Bank, to keep it from obeying a House Intelligence Committee subpoena that sought the research firm’s bank records.
Chutkan didn’t explain why she recused herself from both cases.
But a look at Chutkan’s employment history may offer some insight on the decision.
Prior to sitting on the federal bench, she was a partner at the international law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner (BSF).
In 2013, while still with BSF, Chutkan represented the medical technology company Theranos in a malpractice lawsuit.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch also had a professional relationship with Theranos.
Fritsch, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, joined BSF founder David Boies and a group of Theranos representatives at a 2015 meeting in the Journal’s newsroom after the newspaper published a series of stories that exposed the flaws in the medical technology company’s blood testing equipment.
Tyler Schultz, the whistleblower who exposed Theranos, told the Wall Street Journal BSF tried to silence him with threats and private investigators.
BSF has faced criticism for allegedly using similar tactics on Harvey Weinstein’s accusers.
There is currently no indication that Chutkan worked for BSF at the time of the Theranos-Wall Street Journal incident.