Reports: DNC, Clinton camp helped fund dossier research on possible Trump ties to Russia

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund a political research firm that produced a dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

That’s according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke Tuesday evening to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential client matters.

The person says the arrangement, first reported by The Washington Post, was coordinated by a lawyer for the campaign and the DNC and his law firm. That lawyer, Marc Elias, did not immediately return an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The person says the political research firm, Fusion GPS, had approached Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, about doing continued research into Trump’s international business connections.

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 (Special Counsel Robert) 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 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)?”

Representatives for Fusion GPS declined to comment.