Clinton campaign, Dems helped fund research for Trump dossier: report

A lawyer representing Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Dem pollster: GOP women have a more difficult time winning primary races than Dems Mellman: (Mis)interpreting elections MORE's 2016 presidential campaign, as well as the Democratic National Committee (DNC), helped fund research for the controversial dossier about President Trump's alleged connections to Russia, according to a new report.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Marc Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS in April 2016 to continue investigating Trump's background. Before that, a still unknown Republican donor funded the firm.

Fusion GPS is a private research firm co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson in 2011. In the past, the firm has conducted opposition research on Republicans including Mitt Romney during his 2012 presidential bid.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC funded the firm's efforts through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day, according to The Washington Post.

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Sources told the newspaper that Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI, after Elias and his law firm Perkins Coie retained Fusion GPS to conduct research on Trump.

The DNC issued a statement Tuesday evening distancing its current leadership from the private research firm.

Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE 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," DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said. "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."

The dossier created by Fusion GPS contains salacious and unverified allegations against Trump. The 35-page document reportedly circulated around Washington for months before it was published in its entirety by BuzzFeed in January.

Steele was reportedly interviewed about the dossier over the summer by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the federal investigation into ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia during last year's election.

In August, an attorney for Fusion GPS said that the firm is "proud" of the claims in the dossier and "stands by" the reporting.

The Washington Post's report comes just days after Trump suggested Democrats, Russia or the FBI could be involved in funding for the unverified dossier.

“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)?” Trump wrote on Twitter last week.

In August, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cast blame on Russia and Democrats for the "phony" dossier.

“The Democrat-linked firm Fusion GPS actually took money from the Russian government while it created the phony dossier that’s been the basis for all of the Russia scandal fake news,” Sanders said during a press briefing. 

House Republicans have attempted to force Fusion GPS to identified who has paid the firm, but the firm has objected, citing confidentiality for its clients.

Officials representing Fusion GPS refused to testify before the House Intelligence Committee earlier this month, citing constitutional privileges.

"We cannot in good conscience do anything but advise our clients to stand on their constitutional privileges, the attorney work product doctrine and contractual obligations," Fusion GPS's counsel Josh Levy wrote earlier in October.

"Should you compel any of our three clients to appear at the scheduled deposition, they will invoke their constitutional privileges not to testify," Levy said in the letter, according to the report. "Since that will be the case, we ask that the Committee excuse them from appearing."

Simpson had previously spoken to Senate investigators with the Senate Judiciary Committee in August.

Updated: 8:54 p.m.