A conservative website has said it initially funded the firm that went on to compile a controversial dossier on Donald Trump’salleged ties to Russia.
Representatives of the Washington Free Beacon told the US House Intelligence Committee, which is running one of multiple investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, that the outlet retained Fusion GPS to look into the backgrounds of Mr Trump and other Republican presidential candidates.
“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,” the Free Beacon said in a statement published on its website.
The revelation adds another twist to the drama around Fusion’s work during the campaign. The firm later retained a former British spy, Christopher Steele, who compiled a salacious dossier on Mr Trump’s alleged connections to Russia.
The President has rejected the dossier as false and decried its publication as a partisan attack – a claim bolstered by a Washington Post report this week that Fusion was hired by Marc Elias, an attorney who worked for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
But the news that a conservative publication first hired Fusion GPS complicates that picture, underscoring the various forces arrayed against Mr Trump – representing members of both the Republican and the Democratic establishment – as he pursued his unlikely ascent to the presidency.
In its statement, the Free Beacon disavowed any knowledge of the Steele dossier’s findings, Mr Steele’s work or the relationship between Fusion and Democratic figures.
It said none of the information Fusion turned over to the Free Beacon also appeared in the Steele dossier.
Congressional investigators have been examining the work of Fusion GPS, spending hours questioning the firm’s co-founder.