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Report: Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Effort That Led to Russia Dossier

By    |   Friday, 27 October 2017 07:42 PM

The Washington Free Beacon, a website financed by conservative hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, said Friday that it initially hired the opposition-research firm to produce what has since become the unsubstantiated "Russian dossier" on President Donald Trump during last year's election.

Matthew Continetti, the Free Beacon's editor-in-chief, told readers in an editor's note that executives "approached" the House Intelligence Committee on Friday and "offered to answer what questions we can in their ongoing probe of Fusion GPS and the [Christopher] Steele dossier."

Continetti wrote the editor's note after The Washington Examiner first reported that the Free Beacon had contracted Fusion.

"During the 2016 election cycle, we retained Fusion GPS to provide research on multiple candidates in the Republican presidential primary, just as we retained other firms to assist in our research into Hillary Clinton," Continetti said.

Fusion retained Steele, a former British spy, to complete the document.

The Free Beacon told Fusion to stop researching Trump in May 2016, as he was approaching his victory as the Republican nominee, The New York Times reports.

Continetti did not disclose when the Free Beacon called off Fusion, but said in its note that "all of the work that Fusion GPS provided to the Free Beacon was based on public sources."

In addition, "none of the work product that the Free Beacon received appears in the Steele dossier," he said.

In April 2016, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee also contracted Fusion through the Perkins Coie law firm to research possible connections between Trump's campaign and Russia.

CNN reported Thursday that John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman, and former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz denied to Congress that they knew about payments to Fusion for the dossier.

Continetti said in his editor's note that the Free Beacon "had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele.

"Nor did we have any knowledge of the relationship between Fusion GPS and the Democratic National Committee, Perkins Coie, and the Clinton campaign," he said.

"But to be clear: We stand by our reporting, and we do not apologize for our methods," Continetti said.

"We consider it our duty to report verifiable information, not falsehoods or slander, and we believe that commitment has been well demonstrated by the quality of the journalism that we produce."

The Free Beacon, founded in February 2012, is largely financed by Singer, an associate told the Times.

The associate said that Singer was not aware of the dossier or Steele’s involvement until January, when BuzzFeed published the dossier.

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Friday, 27 October 2017 07:42 PM
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