In what will probably be remembered as a footnote in the Congressional inquiries into the credibility of the infamous “Trump dossier”, the mysterious Republican anti-Trump group that retained opposition research firm Fusion GPS during the Republican primary has finally been revealed.
And surprisingly, it wasn’t John McCain, the RNC or the Cruz campaign. It was…the Washington Free Beacon? The conservative website reportedly told a Congressional panel that it paid Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Trump during the primary, but asked it to stop in May 2016 when it became apparent that Trump would be the nominee. The DNC and Clinton campaigns, through lawyer Marc Elias, contracted Fusion to dig into Trump’s background in April 2016, which is when the real work that led to the dossier’s creation began.
The Free Beacon famously is funded in large part by New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer of Elliott Management Corp. Singer strongly opposed Trump during the primary. The conservative-leaning news website confirmed its relationship with Fusion in a post published Friday night. In the post, the Free Beacon explained that it had withdrawn its financial support before former British spy Christopher Steele was brought on to begin the research that led to the dossier. The Free Beacon also paid to fund opposition research into other candidates besides Trump.
Lawyers for the conservative publication Washington Free Beacon informed the House Intelligence Committee Friday that the organization was the original funder for the anti-Trump opposition research project with Fusion GPS.
The Free Beacon funded the project from the fall of 2015 through the spring of 2016, whereupon it withdrew funding and the project was picked up by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The original arrangement between the Free Beacon and Fusion GPS involved opposition research into multiple Republican candidates, not just front-runner Donald Trump.
Sources close to the Free Beacon stress that the project, when the Free Beacon funded it, had nothing to do with Russia and did not involve Christopher Steele, the former British spy who gathered anti-Trump dirt in Russia. Steele was retained by Fusion GPS when the project was funded by Democrats, and not in its initial phase, when the Free Beacon was involved.
The Free Beacon has a history of employing so-called opposition research firms to assist in news articles critical of targets ranging from Mr. Trump to Mrs. Clinton, according to the New York Times.