Clinton campaign, DNC paid for Russia dossier research

Last week two executives from Fusion GPS were subpoenaed to appear at a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee. They did appear and promptly chose to plead the Fifth rather than answer questions about who funded the oppo-research dossier on Donald Trump. Today we know why they made that choice. The Washington Post reports the research that became the dossier was funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC:

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.

After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the firm in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Prior to that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.

The story does contain one line offering a possible escape hatch for Hillary: “One person close to the matter said the campaign and the DNC were not informed of Fusion GPS’s role by the law firm.” This seems like the kind of Clintonian statement Clinton world is famous for making. It sounds as if Hillary might not have known she was paying for the dossier but notice it doesn’t definitively say that (also there’s no name attached, so it’s deniable). Does this mean Clinton wasn’t informed at the time or that she was never informed? Your guess is as good as mine.

Stay tuned for another carefully crafted statement from Hillary as soon as her army of lawyers and advisers settle on the wording she will use. And Andrea Mitchell should stay by the phone in case Hillary’s people need to arrange an exclusive interview with a friendly outlet this week.

We still don’t know which GOP candidate started the ball rolling, but the article suggests the shift in focus to Russia happened after the DNC and Clinton started paying Fusion GPS. In fact, that much was reported almost a year ago by Mother Jones:

In June, the former Western intelligence officer—who spent almost two decades on Russian intelligence matters and who now works with a US firm that gathers information on Russia for corporate clients—was assigned the task of researching Trump’s dealings in Russia and elsewhere, according to the former spy and his associates in this American firm. This was for an opposition research project originally financed by a Republican client critical of the celebrity mogul. (Before the former spy was retained, the project’s financing switched to a client allied with Democrats.) “It started off as a fairly general inquiry,” says the former spook, who asks not to be identified. But when he dug into Trump, he notes, he came across troubling information indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government. According to his sources, he says, “there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.”

So the DNC and Clinton camp took over the funding in April 2016. After that, Fusion GPS hired Steele, the Russian intelligence specialist who discovered connections to Russia he found troubling sometime after June 2016. So it doesn’t sound as if the GOP-funded research was focused on Russia. That came after Hillary and the DNC stepped up.

The Post reports that the Clinton camp/DNC paid the law firm which hired Fusion GPS a total of $9.2 million between June 2015 and December 2016 but it’s not known how much of that money went to Fusion GPS for the dossier after June 2016.

The fact that Trump’s opponent in the race was funding the dossier which has dogged his presidency for the past 10 months certainly throws a new light on it, as does the fact that everyone involved has refused to admit and even outright denied involvement:

There’s no doubt Clinton’s attorney knew the truth. His firm hired Fusion GPS. So, I know this is going to shock you but it sounds to me like someone in the Clinton orbit was flat-out lying. Trump seems to have called this one last week: