TEL AVIV — In testimony released publicly last week, the founder of the controversial opposition research firm Fusion GPS claimed that he did not know whether the former British spy who compiled the infamous, largely discredited 35-page dossier on President Donald Trump paid any of his purported sources.
Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, a former intelligence agent, to do the work cited in the anti-Trump dossier. Steele later conceded in court documents that part of his work still needed to be verified.
The prospect of Steele paying his purported sources raises the possibility that funds from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign found their way into the hands of former and possibly current members of the Russian government as well as the Kremlin’s intelligence services.
One “source” cited in the Fusion GPS document is a “senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure” – meaning an individual who purportedly served in the Russian Foreign Ministry at the time the dossier was produced. If the source is not fabricated, he or she may still be serving in the Russian government. Another quoted “source” was “a former top-level intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin.”
In October, the Washington Post reported that in April 2016, attorney Marc E. Elias and his law firm Perkins Coie retained Fusion GPS to conduct the anti-Trump work on behalf of both the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Through Perkins Coie, Clinton’s campaign and the DNC continued to fund Fusion GPS until October 2016, days before Election Day, the Post reported.
While it is not clear how much the Clinton campaign or the DNC paid Fusion GPS, the UK Independent, citing campaign finance records, reported that the Clinton campaign doled out $5.6 million to Perkins Coie from June 2015 to December 2016. Records show that since November 2015, the DNC paid the law firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting.”
In August 22 testimony released last week and reviewed in full by Breitbart News, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn R. Simpson denied knowledge of whether Steele paid his alleged sources.
Here is a transcript of the relevant section of the testimony:
QUESTION: To the best of your knowledge, did Mr. Steele pay any of his sources or sub sources in the memoranda for information?
SIMPSON: I don’t know. I think there’s been a little bit of confusion I would like to clear up. Some people were saying that he was paying people for information. I don’t know whether he does or not, but that’s not basically how I understand field operations to work. You commission people to gather information for you rather than sort of paying someone for a document or to sit for an interview or something like that. That’s not how I understand it works.
QUESTION: To make sure I understand, are you saying you don’t pay for particular information, you would have an established financial arrangement with someone?
SIMPSON: If he did at all, but I did not ask and he did not share that information. He did not invoice me for any such.
Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who currently works at the Hillary Clinton-tied Beacon Global Strategies LLC, previously revealed that he “learned” that Steele paid some of the purported sources cited in the dossier.
Morell serves as senior counselor at Beacon Strategies. Beacon was founded by Phillippe Reines, who served as Communications Adviser to Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. From 2009-2013, Reines also served in Clinton’s State Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications. Reines is the managing director of Beacon.
NBC News reported on comments made by Morell at an event last March sponsored by the Cipher Brief intelligence website. Those comments take on renewed significance in light of the disclosures about the origins of Fusion GPS’s funding of the controversial dossier.
“I had two questions when I first read it,” Morell stated of Steele’s dossier for Fusion GPS. “One was, How did Chris talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries.”
Morell then made the comments about Steele allegedly paying his purported sources.
Morell stated: “And then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris.
“And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB [Russian intelligence] officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, ‘Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,’ because they want to get paid some more.
“I think you’ve got to take all that into consideration when you consider the dossier.”
Besides Morell’s comments, Vanity Fair last March published an extensive article on the origins of the dossier that reported Steele had a history of paying sources.
The article stated:
And so, as Steele threw himself into his new mission, he could count on an army of sources whose loyalty and information he had bought and paid for over the years. There was no safe way he could return to Russia to do the actual digging; the vengeful FSB. would be watching him closely. But no doubt he had a working relationship with knowledgeable contacts in London and elsewhere in the West, from angry émigrés to wheeling-and-dealing oligarchs always eager to curry favor with a man with ties to the Secret Service, to political dissidents with well-honed axes to grind.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Written with research by Joshua Klein.