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The Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign helped pay for research that was later included in an infamous dossier that detailed salacious accusations against President Donald Trump and allegations of connections between his campaign and Russian officials, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The newspaper reported that attorney Marc E. Elias, who was representing both the DNC and the Clinton campaign, retained a Washington firm called Fusion GPS for information on Trump in April 2016. The firm subsequently hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who would go on to pen the controversial dossier, according to the Post.
Here are six key things to know:
1. What is the “Steele Dossier?”
The so-called Steele Dossier, which was obtained by BuzzFeed and published in January, is a compilation of memos that includes lewd and unverified allegations against the president. It was compiled by Steele and focused on connections between Trump and Russian operatives, including claims of Trump campaign officials and surrogates sharing information with the Russian government.
2. Are any of the allegations true?
Multiple investigations have been launched into whether or not Trump or his campaign officials colluded with Russian officials to win the election.
The most salacious allegations made in the dossier, including a claim that Russian operatives secretly filmed Trump in a compromising position at a Russian hotel in 2013, have not been verified and might never be, according to the Post. However, despite the president’s claims that the dossier is fake, Sen. Sheldon White House, D-Rhode Island, said to Reuters earlier this month, “A good deal of his information remains unproven, but none of it has been disproven, and considerable amounts of it have been proven.”
He did not elaborate.
3. Did Clinton or the DNC know about the dossier?
The Post reported that Fusion GPS officials gave Steele’s reports and other information to Elias, citing people familiar with the matter.
It was not immediately clear whether that information was then shared with DNC officials, or with the Clinton campaign.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was chair of the DNC when Fusion GPS was hired in 2016, told Fox News that she was unaware of the arrangement.
Fmr DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on WaPo report DNC paid for research in Trump Dossier: “I wasn’t aware of the arrangement at all.”— Jason Donner (@jason_donner) October 25, 2017
4. Who did know about the dossier?
Both Trump and former President Barack Obama were briefed on the dossier in a two-page synopsis attached to a larger report on allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, CNN reported in January.
The briefing, which was classified, was presented by four senior U.S. intelligence chiefs, including then-FBI Director James Comey.
Comey declined to discuss the dossier during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, citing the sensitive nature of the information.
5. Were Republicans involved in the dossier?
Before being hired by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS was collecting information on Trump on behalf of “an unknown Republican client,” the Post reported.
The client, apparently a GOP donor, paid for information on Trump’s background up until he won the Republican nomination, according to the Post.
6. What has Trump said about the dossier?
The president has repeatedly called the Steele dossier fake. He told reporters on Wednesday that, in light of the Post report, “The whole Russian thing is what it’s turned out to be.”
“This was the Democrats coming up with an excuse for losing an election,” he said.
Trump tweeted about the dossier Saturday, writing that the Justice Department or FBI “should immediately release who paid for it.”
Officials behind the now discredited "Dossier" plead the Fifth. Justice Department and/or FBI should immediately release who paid for it.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017