President Donald Trump lashed out at Democrats on Wednesday after a lawyers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee acknowledged helping fund the infamous dossier of alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
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“I think it's a disgrace,” Trump said. “It's a very sad commentary on politics in this country.”
On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Marc E. Elias, a lawyer who represented both the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained the Washington-based investigative firm Fusion GPS to conduct research.
In a letter obtained by ABC News addressed to an attorney for Fusion GPS, Matthew Gehringer, general counsel for Perkins Coie, detailed his firm’s arrangement with Fusion GPS.
“To assist in its representation of the DNC and Hillary for America, Perkins Coie engaged Fusion GPS in April of 2016, to perform a variety of research services during the 2016 election cycle,” Gehringer wrote. “By its terms, the engagement concluded prior to the November 2016 Presidential election.”
A full copy of the letter can be read below.
In August, ABC News reported that Fusion GPS was paid during the heated Republican primaries by a still unknown Republican and then later worked for Democrats, all of whom wanted to dig up dirt on Trump and plant negative news stories, according to political operatives.
The 35-page dossier, prepared by a former British spy and Moscow station chief named Christopher Steele, alleges the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, and includes uncorroborated, salacious allegations about Trump himself, which he has repeatedly denied.
“It’s all fake news,” Trump said. “It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen.”
Between June 2015 to December 2016, the Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie $5.6 million in legal fees, according to campaign finance records examined by the Washington Post. And since since November 2015, the DNC paid the firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting.” It is not possible to know how much of those funds were passed on to Fusion GPS.
As Trump fumed, Democrats defended the campaign and the committee. Former Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon said the Democrats did nothing wrong.
“I think it's important to remember that opposition research happens all the time in the campaign,” Fallon said on CNN.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said the content of the document is more important than the circumstances behind its creation.
“It’s important to know who paid for it,” Swalwell told ABC News. “But it is also important to know if what’s in the dossier is true.”
The DNC, meanwhile, distanced itself from the reported revelation, saying its new leaders were not involved in the decision to retain the investigative firm.
“Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization. But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened,” said DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa.
The identity of the initial Republican funder of the dossier, however, remains a mystery.
Republican House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes approved a subpoena earlier this month that would force the bank handling finances for Fusion GPS to open up its books, which could force the identity of that initial client into public view.
In response to questions today from ABC’s Cecilia Vega, President Trump hinted that the identity might not remain a mystery for much longer.
“I think I would have, if I were to guess, I have one name in mind,” Trump said. “It will probably be revealed.”