Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyNYT: Justice investigating alleged Comey leak of years-old classified info Bernie-Hillary echoes seen in Biden-Sanders primary fight Rosenstein on his time in Trump administration: 'We got all the big issues right' MORE asserted Thursday evening that he did not know beyond news reports that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE's campaign had paid for research that led to a dossier of unverified allegations about President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign 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.