The Trump-Russia collusion narrative took a hit on Tuesday night, with The Washington Post the first to confirm that the so-called “Trump dossier” was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
President Trump derided the dossier on Wednesday, telling reporters it was a “disgrace.”
“They are very embarrassed by it,” he said, referring to the Democrats.
The confirmation that the Clinton campaign paid for the dossier in the general election is big news, as the Justice Department investigation into alleged Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential campaigns could be threatened if it is shown that Clinton’s opposition research was used to try to damage Trump.
A former Reagan administration official told LifeZette on Wednesday that the dossier was used to get warrants on the Trump campaign.
"The [dossier] found its way into official government streams, as a result of actions by former FBI Director James Comey and [former] CIA Director John Brennan," said Joseph diGenova, who served as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia in the 1980s. He said the dossier is much more of a basis for the Trump-Russia collusion theories, and the related investigation, than people think.
The dossier may still be the basis for the investigation into the Trump campaign, according to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Nunes said the FBI and Justice Department have not been forthcoming about how much of the dossier is being used as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 election.
"Tell us whether or not you used this dossier for any investigation. Did you or did you not?" Nunes said Wednesday on "The Laura Ingraham Show."
Nunes said if it is shown the FBI used a campaign's opposition research on Trump, it would be a huge issue.
"And I'll tell you what — if they did, then we've got a big problem in this country," said Nunes. "We've got a big problem with the FBI, for sure."
The investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is being led by Robert Mueller, special counsel of the Justice Department and a former FBI director.
The disclosure of the Clinton campaign funding of the dossier on Trump and Russia comes as the Republicans turn up the heat on Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C., research agency that some say is set up to smear people for money. Fusion GPS hired the British ex-spy Christopher Steele to author the report on Trump and Russia.
After Trump won the election, federal officials briefed former President Barack Obama and Donald Trump about the dossier as part of a Presidential Daily Briefing. When news somehow leaked that Obama and Trump were informed about the dossier, BuzzFeed printed the entire thing on January 10. CNN also reported on aspects of the dossier, although it did not publish it.
President-elect Donald Trump was furious.
It now turns out that Democratic attorney Marc E. Elias, working for law firm Perkins Coie, retained Fusion GPS for the DNC and the Clinton campaign, and began a new stage of research into Trump sometime in mid-2016.
The news sent shockwaves through Washington, D.C.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters on Wednesday morning that the FBI needed to stop stalling, and fully disclose its ties to Fusion GPS.
Fusion GPS was known to have started research on Trump for an anonymous Republican donor who wanted to see the Manhattan billionaire defeated. It was widely assumed that Fusion GPS was funded by the Democrats after some point in April 2016, just as Trump seemed assured of winning the Republican nomination for president.
With new and large-scale Democratic funding, though, the Fusion GPS research took a new and odd turn. Glenn Simpson, CEO of Fusion GPS, started the Russian research, and even looked at Trump's behavior in Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.
The Post stressed the key fact that the Democrats began the Russian research.
"So while both sides paid Fusion GPS, Steele was only funded by Democrats," The Post's Aaron Blake wrote on Wednesday.
Blake also offered an explanation as to why the Democrats flat-out lied about hiring Fusion GPS for so long.
"First among those reasons is paying a foreigner for opposition research for an American political campaign," Blake wrote. "Given Democrats' argument that Russia's interference on Trump's behalf was beyond the pale, the Clinton camp and the DNC paying a Brit for information would seem somewhat problematic."
The reputation of Fusion GPS is another issue. The research firm, founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, has a history of negative smear jobs.
"They get paid to destroy people, and they do so on behalf of criminals," said Thor Halvorssen, the CEO of the Human Rights Foundation, on "Fox and Friends," on Wednesday. "This is how they make their money."
Halvorssen is a Venezuelan activist, and told the Senate Judiciary Committee in July that when he investigated corruption in his home country that involved U.S. companies, Fusion GPS put him in its crosshairs.
Halvorssen said Fusion GPS employees often "engage in payoffs to journalists."
But on Wednesday, the biggest question seemed to be why the Democrats lied for so long about their association with the dossier.
"If hiring Fusion GPS to compile the dossier was no big deal/completely ethical, the Clinton camp wouldn't have denied it for so long," tweeted Jim Geraghty, senior writer of National Review.
Even reporters at The New York Times admitted they were lied to.
"When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer (Marc Elias) pushed back vigorously, saying 'You (or your sources) are wrong,'" tweeted Ken Vogel.
The lies may indicate how much the Clinton campaign wanted to obscure the fact that its opposition research made its way into the hands of the FBI files and warrant requests related to Trump.
Last Modified: October 25, 2017, 8:32 pm