Funding for the infamous Trump-Russia dossier was shared by a still-unnamed Republican, the Clinton campaign, and the Democratic National Committee, the Washington Post revealed Tuesday.
Compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, the document — an explosive though partly unsubstantiated piece of opposition research — sparked an FBI investigation into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
The anonymous Republican funded the research, conducted by Steele via the U.S. firm Fusion GPS, until April 16, 2016, when Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, started picking up the check, the newspaper reported, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
The Clinton campaign was long thought to be involved in the production of the dossier, though it was unclear when or for how long. According to the Post, Elias continued funding the work until October 2016, “days before election day.”
Both the Trump administration and the Trump family have previously discussed the value of opposition research, the pursuit of which led Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-campaign director Paul Manafort to meet with several Kremlin-linked Russians at Trump Tower in June, 2016.
That meeting has been the subject of several closed-door Senate hearings and allegations that President Trump personally composed Donald Trump Jr.’s initial, deliberately misleading public statement claiming they had met to discuss the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families.
Trump Jr. later corrected himself, tweeting out a copy of their emails, which promised damaging opposition research on Clinton.
President Trump has since accused “the Dems” of colluding with Russia and the FBI to frame him for a number of allegations contained in the document, including the claim that Trump hired several prostitutes to urinate on each other in a Russian hotel suite.
It’s not clear what evidence Trump has linking the FBI to the production of the dossier. The agency did reportedly hire Steele after obtaining the dossier to further probe its contents. According to the Post and a separate report by CNN, that arrangement was structured in the form of paying Steele’s expenses. CNN reported the arrangement “ended abruptly,” in part because Steele was “frustrated” that the FBI wasn’t doing enough to investigate Trump in the days leading up to the election.
The Post report in particular was a hit with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who tweeted out a link Tuesday night — despite saying just a few hours earlier that day at a briefing that “I wouldn’t use the Washington Post as my source.”