Andrew Harnik / AP
Conservative news site the Washington Free Beacon, a former non-profit with backing from powerful Republican donors, hired the opposition research firm that eventually published the Trump dossier, the site's editor-in-chief confirmed Friday.
The revelation, first reported in the Washington Examiner, comes as the House Intelligence Committee intensifies its focus on the opposition research firm. Fusion was expected to reveal its donors to Congress as soon as Monday, one source said.
The double revelations this week — first that Hillary Clinton's campaign paid for the research that produced the dossier; and second that at least one major Republican donor had funded Trump research from the same firm — have fed an intense political debate over how to understand the investigation of Trump's ties to Russia by a former British spy, Christopher Steele. Steele's findings were widely circulated among government officials and investigators before and after the dossier was published this January by BuzzFeed News.
In his note to readers, Washington Free Beach editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti said none of the research funded by the Free Beacon ultimately was included in Steele's dossier.
“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,” he said. “Nor did we have any knowledge of the relationship between Fusion GPS and the Democratic National Committee, [law firm] Perkins Coie, and the Clinton campaign.”
The Free Beacon, founded in 2012, is largely funded by Paul Singer, a hedge fund manager and Republican political donor, the New York Times reported. A Singer associate said he was not aware that Fusion GPS went on to contract Steele to create his dossier, the Times reported.
Fusion founder Glenn Simpson didn't respond to an inquiry about the Washington Free Beacon connection, or about what the firm plans to turn over to Congress.
Singer backed Senator Marco Rubio for president in 2016, but a source who worked on the Rubio campaign told BuzzFeed News the campaign was not involved with and not aware of the research. (A top Singer adviser, Dan Senor, didn't respond to an inquiry from BuzzFeed News.)
Public statements have left open questions about the timeline of the dossier's creation, and of the Washington Free Beacon's relationship with Fusion.
Steele was brought on to the opposition research project specifically to look into Trump's dealings with Russia in June 2016, Mother Jones reported.
Steele said in a court filing in London this year that he began working with Fusion as early as 2010. (The plaintiff in that case, Aleskej Gubarev, is also suing BuzzFeed.) The first report in his dossier is dated June 20, 2016.
Henry Gomez contributed to this report.