New York, NY — There are legitimate questions about whether money from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) found its way into the hands of former and possibly current members of the Russian government as well as the Kremlin’s intelligence services cited as “sources” in the infamous, largely discredited 35-page dossier on President Donald Trump.
The questions follow the disclosure that the DNC and Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign funded research utilized in the anti-Trump dossier.
It also follows a previous disclosure from former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who currently works at the Hillary Clinton-tied Beacon Global Strategies LLC, who revealed that he “learned” dossier author Christopher Steele paid some of the purported sources cited in the dossier.
The Washington Post last Tuesday reported that in April 2016, attorney Marc E. Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained Fusion GPS to conduct the questionable research 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.
Fusion GPS went on to hire Steele, a former intelligence agent, to do the purported research. Steele later conceded in court documents that part of his work still needed to be verified.
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.”
Morell previously disclosed that he “learned” Steele paid some of the “sources” quoted 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 previously 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.”
One “source” cited in the Fusion GPS document is a “senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure” – meaning an individual who served in the Russian Foreign Ministry at the time the dossier was produced. If the source is not entirely 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.”
Now it has been revealed that the Clinton campaign and the DNC funded the research, there are questions about whether that money was used by Steele to pay any of his “sources.” If so, that could mean the DNC and Clinton campaign cash made its way to those Russian “sources.”
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 F.S.B. 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.
It is also worth noting that according to an April report in the New York Times, James Comey’s F.B.I. was originally willing to pay Steele $50,000 to corroborate the information in the dossier. The F.B.I. ultimately did not pay Steele, according to two people familiar with the matter speaking to the Times.
Meanwhile, CNN reported that in private interviews with Congressional investigators prior to the Post’s report revealing Perkins Coie’s reported payment to Fusion GPS, former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz both denied that they were aware of any arrangement to fund Fusion GPS’s opposition research. CNN reported that Elias was seated next to Podesta during the private interview.
That report prompted former CIA Director Leon Panetta to advocate for the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate both the Clinton campaign and the DNC about whether they had any knowledge of the payment to Fusion GPS to produce the dossier.
“Well, it certainly makes the situation very awkward,” Panetta said of Elias’s alleged involvement. “If you’re testifying and saying you have no knowledge, and the attorney sitting next to you is one of those that knew what was involved here, I think it does raise an issue that the committee is going to have to look at and determine just exactly who knew what.”
The dossier contains wild and unproven claims that the Russians had information regarding Trump and sordid sexual acts, including the widely mocked claim that Trump hired prostitutes and had them urinate on a hotel room bed. It also claimed there was an exchange of information between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.
Those allegations remain unsubstantiated following numerous public hearings. Indeed, former CIA Director John Brennan made clear in testimony last May that after viewing all of the evidence that was available to him on the Russia probe he is not aware of any collusion between Russia and members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
According to the BBC, the dossier served as a “roadmap” for the FBI’s investigation into claims of coordination between Moscow and members of Trump’s presidential campaign during the Obama administration.
In April, CNN reported that the dossier served as part of the FBI’s justification for seeking the FISA court’s reported approval to clandestinely monitor the communications of Carter Page, the American oil industry investor who was tangentially and briefly associated with Trump’s presidential campaign.
Senior Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have reportedly requested that the FBI and Department of Justice turn over applications for any warrants to monitor the communications of U.S. citizens associated with the investigation into alleged Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In June testimony to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey admitted he pushed back against a request from President Donald Trump to possibly investigate the origins of “salacious material” that the agency possessed in the course of its investigation into alleged Russian interference.
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.
This article was written with research by Joshua Klein.