Former FBI Director James Comey repeated one of the more pervasive false claims about the infamous Steele dossier on Thursday, telling Fox News’ Bret Baier Republicans first financed the salacious document.
Instead, the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee funded the dossier project.
“I knew it was first funded by Republicans,” Comey told Baier during an exchange about his knowledge of the dossier, which former British spy Christopher Steele wrote.
“That’s not true, that the dossier that Christopher Steele worked on was funded by Republicans?” Baier replied.
“My understanding is his work started funded as oppo research funded by Republicans,” Comey insisted.
Baier corrected Comey, saying The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, claimed they hired Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm commissioned the dossier, on a retainer, “but they did not fund the Christopher Steele memo or the dossier.”
“That was initiated by Democrats,” Baier said.
“My understanding was the activity was begun, that Steele was hired to look into was first funded by Republicans then picked up — important thing was picked up by Democrats opposed to Donald Trump,” Baier added.
Comey’s false claim is not without precedent, though it is surprising given the FBI relied on the dossier as part of its investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian government.
Fusion GPS hired Steele to investigate Trump in June 2016. The opposition research firm was working at that time for Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented the Clinton campaign and DNC.
The Washington Free Beacon, which billionaire Republican donor Paul Singer funds, hired Fusion GPS in September 2015 to conduct standard opposition research on Trump. But the website ended its Trump work in May 2016, after Trump appeared poised to win the GOP nomination. The Free Beacon employed Fusion through January 2017 but cut ties after BuzzFeed News published the Steele report.
Comey signed off on three surveillance warrants obtained against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, which relied heavily on the dossier.