Conservative site funded project that led to Trump dossier

A conservative publication set in motion the research that led to a dossier that includes unverified claims regarding ties between President Trump and Russia, the publication revealed on Friday.

The Washington Free Beacon originally funded the project through the firm Fusion GPS, a connection the publication’s lawyers revealed for the first time to the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.

The Washington Examiner first reported the connection and the Free Beacon then confirmed it.

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The publication stopped funding the project in the spring of 2016. At that point, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonColorado governor teases possible presidential run Mueller asks judge for September sentencing for Papadopoulos House Judiciary Committee subpoenas FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts MORE’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee picked up funding of the project.

The project until that point had focused on researching multiple Republican presidential candidates and was not looking at collusion with Russia, according to the Free Beacon.

The former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele also became involved after the publication stopped funding the project and went on to compile the dossier, which is sometimes known as the "Steele dossier."

"Representatives of the Free Beacon approached the House Intelligence Committee today and offered to answer what questions we can in their ongoing probe of Fusion GPS and the Steele dossier," the publication’s Editor in Chief Matthew Continetti and Chairman Michael Goldfarb said in a statement. "The Free Beacon had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele."

The committee confirmed that the publication came forward.

"The Washington Free Beacon has issued a statement asserting that it had no involvement with Christopher Stele or the dossier he compiled from Russian sources," committee spokesman Jack Langer told Fox News Friday night. "The Beacon has agreed to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee to help the Committee verify this information."

The dossier, which alleges ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow, circulated among news organizations in Washington throughout the fall of 2016, but was not reported on at the time because many of the allegations — including the most salacious ones — could not be verified.

BuzzFeed News published the document in January. 
 
But the question of who paid for the dossier has long been a subject of speculation and curiosity. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that, after the then-unnamed conservative source stopped paying for the research, a lawyer for the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee retained Fusion GPS's services to continue the work.
 
It was after that that Fusion hired Steele, a former Russia expert for MI6, to compile the dossier.
 
Clinton and other high-level campaign and DNC officials have claimed that they were unaware of the dossier's existence during the presidential race.

Paul Singer, a major financial backer of the Washington Free Beacon, supported Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio heckled by protestors outside immigration detention facility Bill to protect work licenses of student loan debtors is welcome development Political figures pay tribute to Charles Krauthammer MORE’s (R-Fla.) bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and strongly opposed Trump. Singer was not aware of the dossier until Buzzfeed published it in January, according to The New York Times.
 
The Free Beacon said since their founding in February 2012 they have regularly "retained third party firms to conduct research on many individuals and institutions of interest."
 
“The First Amendment guarantees our right to engage in news-gathering as we see fit, and we intend to continue doing just that as we have since the day we launched this project,” Continetti and Goldfarb continued in their statement.
 
— Max Greenwood contributed.

— Updated Oct. 28.