Did Hillary Clinton Fund The Trump Dossier? The Infamous Report Claimed Russia Interfered In The 2016 Election
The Washington Post reported that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee worked together to fund research leading to the infamous Donald Trump dossier, which alleged that the Russian government had been involved in the president's campaign. Marc Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, reportedly worked with Washington firm Fusion GPS to conduct the research.
According to The Post, Fusion GPS then hired former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who has ties to the FBI, to put together the dossier. The document included allegations that Russia collected compromising information about Trump — involving him allegedly urinating on prostitutes at a hotel in Moscow — and that the Kremlin helped him win the presidential campaign. Trump has denied these claims.
Before Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained Fusion GPS in April 2016, the company's research was funded by an unknown Republican client, according to the Post, during the GOP primary. They weren't initially looking for ties to Russia, but sources say they quickly realized the connection was extensive. Clinton's campaign and the DNC reportedly funded the research from then until the end of October 2016.
It's unclear how many people with the campaign and the DNC were informed of Steele's research, since his reports were given to Elias, according to sources close to the matter. One insider said the campaign and the DNC weren't informed of Fusion's role in the investigation.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted about the dossier and suggested that the FBI, Russia, or the Democrats might have funded it. Sources wouldn't disclose to the Post how much money Fusion GPS was given to conduct this research, but they said the campaign and the DNC split the cost. Bustle has reached out to Elias and Fusion GPS for comment, as well as the DNC.
U.S. investigators corroborated much of what was in the dossier, with the exception of the alleged "golden shower." And, according to CNN, then-FBI Director James Comey briefed Trump and Barack Obama on the dossier prior to Trump's inauguration in January. Trump fired Comey in May, and Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to investigate the Trump-Russia connections.
Clinton's campaign and the DNC were interested in Trump's business ties, according to the Post, but in no way directed Steele's research. It's reportedly standard practice for a campaign to hire outside firms to conduct research, in order to protect the work under attorney-client privileges. While the two groups paid Perkins Coie a total of $9.2 million between June 2015 and December 2016, it's unclear how much went to Fusion GPS.
After the FBI launched an investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, Steele began sharing his findings with the agency. They paid him to continue to gather intel on Trump and the Kremlin, before he was publicly identified in the news after BuzzFeed released the dossier. Fusion GPS denies giving BuzzFeed the documents.
After the news broke of the campaign's involvement with the dossier, Clinton's former press secretary Brian Fallon said he didn't know about Steele's investigation. "I regret I didn't know about Christopher Steele's hiring pre-election," he tweeted. "If I had, I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him."
"If I'd gotten his dossier before Nov 8, I may have tried to convince [campaign strategist Robby] Mook & [campaign chairman John] Podesta to let me hold a Comey-style press conference to read it," Fallon continued. "I have no idea what Fusion or Steele were paid but if even a shred of that dossier ends up helping Mueller, it will prove money well spent."