Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) helped fund the research resulting in the infamous dossier containing allegations of possible coordination between the Trump Campaign and the Kremlin, according to a Washington Post report.
Marc Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington political consulting firm to conduct the research. The dossier’s author Christopher Steele, was commissioned by the firm to conduct the investigation according to reports.
The Elias Law firm, Perkins Coie, retained Fusion GPS in April 2016 as proxy for the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Fusion GPS’s research into Trump before the Clinton investigation was funded by an unknown Republican donor during the GOP primary.
Fusion GPS’s research was reportedly funded through the end of October 2016 by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, ending just days before the election.
Fusion GPS delivered reports to Christopher Steele and other research documents to Elias according to officials familiar with the investigation. It is unknown how much of that information was shared with the Clinton’s campaign and the DNC.
A source close to the matter said those organizations were aware of the roles of Fusion GPS and the dossier’s author Christopher Steele, but not informed by the law firm of Fusion GPS’s role.
The dossier has become somewhat of a thorn in the side of President Trump, his camp and some key Republicans—amid the intensifying investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia. Some congressional Republican leaders have spent considerable time trying to determine the identity of the Democrat(s), organizations, or entities funding the dossier.
Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele compiled the dossier on President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. (Victoria Jones/AP)
Explosive information in the dossier points to allegations of extensive ties between President Trump and Russia, though the dossier’s contents are unverified; the allegations in the dossier have culminated into three separate investigations citing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The president has publicly condemned the Russian investigation—calling the allegations in the dossier false and every Russia story or investigation a hoax—made up by the Democrats to undermine his presidency.
The report comes on the heels of President Trump urging the Justice Department “and/or” the Federal Bureau of Investigation to “immediately” release any information on who funded the investigation. Trump tweeted as recently as Saturday that the Justice Department and FBI should “immediately release who paid for it.”
Former spokesman for the Clinton campaign, Brian Fallon, gave no indication of being aware of the firm’s hiring during the campaign.
“The first I learned of Christopher Steele or saw any dossier was after the election,” Fallon said. “But if I had gotten handed it last fall, I would have had no problem passing it along and urging reporters to look into it. Opposition research happens on every campaign, and here you had probably the most shadowy guy ever running for president, and the FBI certainly has seen fit to look into it. I probably would have volunteered to go to Europe myself to try and verify if it would have helped get more of this out there before the election.”
A DNC spokeswoman said “Chairman Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization. But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened.”
Details included in a Tuesday letter sent by Perkins Coie to a lawyer representing Fusion GPS, informed council its firm was released from a client-confidentiality obligation. The legal fight over a subpoena for Fusion GPS’s bank records prompted the letter.
The dollar amounts paid to Fusion GPS according to sources involved in the investigation were not disclosed, what’s clear from reports is the Clinton campaign and the DNC shared the cost.
Christopher Steele, former British Intelligence Officer [M16], who worked for Russia, compiled and prepared the reports in the controversial dossier for Fusion GPS.
Allegations in the dossier center on the Russian government’s role in collecting compromising information about Trump to include details about the Kremlin’s effort to assist his campaign for president.
U.S. intelligence agencies released a public assessment in January, 2017—asserting that as the 2016 presidential campaign progressed, Russian government officials intervened and devoted increasing attention to assisting Trump’s effort to win the election.
An ongoing investigation by three congressional bodies—the House and Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee are underway. The panels are concerned with whether Russia coordinated its efforts with President Donald Trump’s campaign. The probes are separate from the related investigation that Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller is overseeing.
Officials close to the investigation have said the FBI has confirmed some of the information in the dossier. Other details, such as the most explosive and controversial allegations, have not been verified.
President Trump from the onset has condemned the dossier and has adamantly denied the allegations—dismissing them and the FBI probe as a witch hunt.
The Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie $5.6 million in legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, according to campaign finance records. The DNC paid the firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting” since November 2015—though it’s difficult to ascertain from the filings how much of the work was for other legal matters and how much of it related to Fusion GPS.
At no point, according to sources connected with the investigation, did the Clinton campaign or the DNC direct Steele’s activities. Steele was described as a Fusion GPS subcontractor.
Some of Steele’s allegations in the controversial dossier began circulating throughout Washington in the summer of 2016 as the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation into possible connections between Trump associates and the Kremlin. During that time, Steele shared significant aspects of his findings with the FBI.
The FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering intelligence about Trump and Russia after the election. After Steele was publicly identified in news reports, the bureau red-lighted the investigation.
The infamous dossier was published by BuzzFeed News in January. Fusion GPS denied giving BuzzFeed documents according to testimony in court filings.
Steele is respected by the FBI and the State Department for earlier work he performed on a global corruption probe and highly revered by current and former US intelligence officials.
In early January, then-FBI Director James Comey presented a two-page summary of Steele’s dossier to President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump. In May, Trump fired Comey, which led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia matter.
Congressional Republicans made several attempts to force Fusion GPS to identify the Democrat(s) or entities behind Steele’s work, the firm refused to divulge information, citing confidentiality agreements with its clients.
Fusion GPS executives invoked their constitutional right not to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee on last week. The firm’s founder, Glenn Simpson, had previously given a 10-hour interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., center, standing with Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., left, and Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., right, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
The Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Devin Nunes, (CA), subpoenaed Fusion GPS’s bank records to determine the mystery client, over the objections from Democrats.
A judge on Tuesday extended a deadline for Fusion GPS’s bank to respond to the subpoena until Friday while the company attempts to negotiate a resolution with Nunes.
LeNora Millen 10-25-17
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