The Clinton campaign received a steady flow of briefings on its paid-for Christopher Steele dossier, whose unverified Trump-Russia collusion charges made their way into election news stories and Clinton talking points.
The dossier emerged again as a Washington hot topic in recent days with the release of four FBI applications to a judge to spy on a Donald Trump volunteer. The petition’s evidence to convince the judge was largely based on the dossier.
With the application’s release, President Trump took to Twitter to declare the 35-pages a “Clinton campaign document.”
Some pundits and a fact-checkers asserted that the Clinton campaign never used Mr. Steele’s Russia charges.
A check of the public record shows otherwise, although the campaign never specifically cited the dossier by name. Mr. Steele accused Trump people of an “extensive conspiracy” with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 election — a charge not proved publicly.
The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee financed the dossier as part of $1 million funneled to the DNC’s law firm Perkins Coie and then to Fusion GPS for opposition research on candidate Trump.
Mr. Steele’s share was about $160,000 paid by Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. According to the FBI’s wiretap applications, Mr. Steele paid sub-sources who collected anti-Trump information from Kremlin operatives.
The majority Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence established the fact via witnesses that Mr. Steele’s claims were regularly briefed to the Clinton campaign starting in June 2016.
The House intelligence committee report’s Chapter 4, “Campaign Links to Russia,” details the dossier-to-Clinton flow.
Finding No. 39 states, “Christopher Steele’s information from Russian sources was provided directly to Fusion GPS and [name redacted] and indirectly to the Clinton campaign.”
Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, the DNC’s attorney, was personally briefed by Mr. Steele.
A person whose name was redacted “led regular briefings that contained Steele’s information for senior Clinton campaign staff, which included campaign manager [Robby Mook] and campaign chairman John Podesta,” the committee report said.
Mr. Mook did not respond to The Washington Times.
This unidentified person also briefed the DNC.
In sum, the Clinton team paid for the dossier via middlemen and received its contents.
With news that summer that Russia hacked Democratic computers, the Clinton campaign stepped up charges that Mr. Trump was in cahoots with Moscow. Republicans believe the source was Mr. Steele.
The main avenue to thrust Mr. Steele’s work into the public was from Fusion’s Mr. Simpson to the news media.
In his book “Russian Roulette,” Yahoo News investigative reporter Michael Isikoff calls his old friend Mr. Simpson, “the Clinton campaign’s chief undercover oppo man.”
He described the marriage.
“In April, Elias and Simpson worked out a deal: Fusion GPS would be retained by Elias’s firm, Perkins Coie, with the investigators’ fees and expenses paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Once again, the arrangement would be obscured on campaign disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.”
It was Mr. Isikoff who wrote the first dossier story. He met with Mr. Steele in a hotel room. He obscured Mr. Steele by calling him a Western intelligence source. His September 2016 story conveyed the former British’s spy’s serious charge: Trump volunteer Carter Page, while in Moscow to deliver a public speech, met with two Kremlin figures under economic sanctions by the Obama administration. Mr. Page has always denied this and has not been charged.
Once posted, the Yahoo story was immediately tweeted and repeated by the Clinton campaign.
Even before that story, the Clinton-bought information emerged in an Aug. 27, 2016, letter from then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, to then-FBI Director James B. Comey. Mr. Reid called for an investigation into the same charges leveled anonymously by Mr. Steele.
Mr. Reid, a Clinton supporter, received the information from then-CIA Director John O. Brennan. He contends that the senator released the Trump charges without his approval. But it shows that Clinton loyalists were able to circulate Mr. Steele’s charges inside the Obama administration and Mr. Reid was the public conduit.
A few days before the election, Mr. Steele briefed the liberal magazine Mother Jones via Skype. The subsequent story relayed most of Mr. Steele’s anti-Trump agenda.
Mr. Simpson led Fusion as it oversaw Mr. Steele’s information flow to the FBI. Mr. Steele personally briefed agents. Fusion set up a line of communication from one of its anti-Trump researchers to a Justice Department official to the FBI agent leading the investigation, Peter Strzok.
The Clinton-financed dossier was used to fuel an FBI investigation into the Trump team that continues today by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Said a Republican congressional staffer, “Of course they used the dossier. They paid for it, and the people they paid gave the dossier to the press and the FBI before the election. So that right there is the campaign using the dossier. It’s their operation, and they’re paying for it.”
In January 2017, BuzzFeed posted the entire dossier. Some Democrats proceeded to fully embrace the charges in attacks on Mr. Trump.