The opposition research team that produced the notorious anti-Trump dossier continued to be paid to dig up dirt on Russian meddling in American politics after the November 2016 election.
“That revelation, buried inside a 243-page report released by House Intelligence Committee Republicans last week, has sparked new speculation about the identities of the secretive donors who were funding the post-election project,” Fox News reported.
According to the report, Daniel J. Jones — the president of the Penn Quarter Group and a former staffer for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein — “secured the services” of dossier author and former British spy Christopher Steele “to continue exposing Russian interference” after the election. He also hired an associate of Steele’s and the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, Fox noted.
The intelligence committee report does not list the donors, but Jones told the FBI that the Penn Quarter Group was funded by seven to 10 wealthy donors, primarily from New York and California.
The committee found “no evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
However, the report noted that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee used Russian sources (including current and former Russian government officials), through a series of intermediaries, to commision the Trump dossier.
“The committee … found that the Clinton campaign and the DNC, using a series of cutouts and intermediaries to obscure their roles, paid for opposition research on Trump obtained from Russian sources, including a litany of claims by high-ranking current and former Russian government officials,” the report stated.
“Some of this opposition research was used to produce sixteen memos, which comprise what has become known as the Steele dossier.”
During the 2016 race, the DNC and the Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS through the Washington, D.C. law firm Perkins Coie to produce the dossier, according to The Washington Post.
The dossier was then reportedly passed on to officials in the Justice Department who used it to help obtain a FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
The dossier was also employed in January 2017, before Trump took office, to build the case that his campaign colluded with Russia after it was leaked to the media that then-FBI Director James Comey had briefed the president-elect about the material.
Fox News reported that President Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has come under scrutiny as a potential source of that leak, based on inconsistent answers he has given regarding contact he had with CNN during the time period in question.
The House Intelligence Committee report pointed out that Clapper acknowledged meeting with CNN anchor Jake Tapper in early January.
Shortly thereafter, CNN published an article about material briefed to Trump and Obama concerning compromising information from Russian sources about the president-elect. Shortly thereafter, Buzzfeed published the dossier.
Trump tweeted about the Clapper-CNN connection over the weekend.
“Clapper lied about (fraudulent) Dossier leaks to CNN” @foxandfriends FoxNews He is a lying machine who now works for Fake News CNN.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 28, 2018
Arguably, a line can be drawn from the DNC/Clinton campaign funded dossier to the Russian collusion investigation, to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from overseeing the matter (based on his connection to the campaign), leading finally to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing special counsel Robert Mueller.
Questions that Mueller’s team would allegedly like to ask Trump were leaked on Monday. Most of them appeared directed at the possibility of obstruction of justice in relation to the Russia investigation and a few were aimed at the issue of collusion.
Trump tweeted on Tuesday, “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!”
He added, “So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media.”
Trump continued, “Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!”
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