WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that led to the now-infamous dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump and Russia, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
The source said the law firm Perkins Coie, as part of its representation of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained the intelligence firm Fusion GPS and entered “into an engagement for research services that began in April 2016 and concluded before the election in early November.”
The Washington Post was first to report the news Tuesday.
The newspaper, citing people familiar with the matter, said a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC hired Fusion GPS, which in turn hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, whose research makes up the document. The Post said Perkins Coie lawyer Marc Elias retained the research firm in April 2016 as the GOP primary was winding down and Trump was increasingly likely to clinch his party’s nomination.
CNN previously reported Fusion GPS’s anti-Trump research was initially funded by anti-Trump Republicans during the GOP primaries, and Democrats began paying the research firm later on, after Trump became the presumptive nominee. The Washington Post reports that Fusion GPS hired Steele after the Democratic funding began and the general election picture grew clearer.
Brian Fallon, the Clinton campaign’s national press secretary and now a CNN political contributor, tweeted Tuesday that he wasn’t aware of the connection between the campaign and the dossier authored by Steele, but “if I had, I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him.”
“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,” he tweeted.
DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement Tuesday: “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.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that the news of the Clinton campaign and DNC funding the dossier research was “the real Russia scandal.”
“The real Russia scandal? Clinton campaign paid for the fake Russia dossier, then lied about it & covered it up,” Sanders tweeted.
Sources told CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met with Steele over the summer as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and allegations of coordination between Russia and Trump’s associates.
The confirmation that the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign contributed funding that led to the dossier comes as Trump continues to train his fire on the explosive document, most recently tweeting, “Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?”
House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes signed subpoenas for Fusion GPS’s financial records, and the research firm asked a federal court to block the request, citing First Amendment concerns.
Fusion GPS also claimed that Nunes should have notified it about the subpoena of its bank records.
Nunes stepped aside from the House intelligence committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the election in April following an ethics investigation into his handling of classified information. The California Republican delegated authority on the Russia matter to Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas.
The federal court noted the settlement talks Tuesday afternoon.
Fusion GPS and the bank must let the court know by 3 p.m. Thursday if the parties reach a settlement. The judge in the case also extended a deadline for the bank to reply to the case from Wednesday until Friday morning.
Earlier Tuesday, Fusion GPS lawyer William Taylor issued a statement that Congress’ request was overly broad and that it was “designed to punish President Trump’s political foes while chilling future investigative research into his actions.”
The dossier helped fuel the ongoing investigations into Trump and Russia, including the special counsel probe led by Former FBI Director Mueller. CNN reported in February that investigators had been able to corroborate some information in the dossier, although not the most salacious allegations.
The US intelligence community asserted in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an effort to disrupt the US presidential election.