WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund political research into President Donald Trump that ultimately produced a dossier of allegations about his ties to Russia, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday night.
The revelation is likely to fuel complaints by Trump that the dossier, which the president has derided as "phony stuff," is a politically motivated collection of salacious claims. Yet the FBI has worked to corroborate the document, and in a sign of its ongoing relevance to investigators, special counsel Robert Mueller's team — which is probing potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign — weeks ago questioned the former British spy who helped compile the claims in the dossier.
The dossier, which circulated in Washington last year and was turned over to the FBI for its review, contends that Russia was engaged in a longstanding effort to aid Trump and had amassed compromising information about him. Trump has repeatedly dismissed the document as false and in recent days has questioned on Twitter whether Democrats or the FBI had helped fund it.
The person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential client matters, said the arrangement was brokered by Marc Elias, a lawyer for the campaign and the DNC, and his law firm of Perkins Coie. The deal began around last spring, when the firm was approached by Fusion GPS, the political research firm behind the dossier, and lasted into the fall, right before Election Day, according to the person.
Elias did not immediately return an email seeking comment, and representatives of Fusion GPS declined to comment. The Washington Post first reported the arrangement.
According to a letter obtained by the AP Tuesday night, representatives of Fusion GPS reached out to the firm to express interest in continuing research on Trump it had begun "for one or more other clients during the Republican primary contest." The identity of that other client has not been revealed.
Perkins Coie then engaged Fusion GPS in April 2016 "to perform a variety of research services during the 2016 election cycle," according to the letter.
The letter was sent Tuesday by the law firm's general counsel to a lawyer for Fusion GPS. It is intended to release the research firm from its client confidentiality obligations.