Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyA question of privilege: How Trump could still gut the Mueller report The damning proof of innocence that FBI likely withheld in Russian probe Nadler: Half of Trump probe targets likely to comply with document requests MORE asserted Thursday evening that he did not know beyond news reports that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP lawmaker defends Chelsea Clinton after confrontation over New Zealand attacks Klobuchar: Race, gender should not be litmus tests for 2020 Dem nominee Kirsten Gillibrand officially announces White House run MORE's campaign had paid for research that led to a dossier of unverified allegations about President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE's ties to Russia.

"When did you learn that the [Democratic National Committee] DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign had funded Christopher Steele's work?" Fox News anchor Brett Baier asked Comey on "Special Report," referring to the dossier compiled by Steele, a former British spy.

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"I still don't know that for a fact," Comey responded. "I've only seen it in the media. I never knew exactly which Democrats had funded. I knew it was funded first by Republicans."

"That's not true," Baier interjected, referring to funding by Republicans.

"My understanding is that his work started ... as oppo research funded by Republicans," Comey maintained, adding the activity was "then picked up by Democrats opposed to Donald Trump."

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication, confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee in October that it originally funded the Trump project through the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. 

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

The Free Beacon maintained that none of the work product it received from Fusion GPS appeared in the dossier and the publication said it did not pay for any work performed by Steele, suggesting he became involved after the publication stopped funding the project.

The unverified dossier compiled by Steele contains salacious details about Trump's 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant. 

Democrats argue the dossier provides a framework into Trump's alleged ties to Russia, while Republicans say the document is politically motivated.