Close allies of Jeb Bush are denying that the former presidential candidate is behind the dossier on Donald Trump — a claim that has picked up steam after it was reported by the BBC on Wednesday.
Mike Murphy and Charles Spies, the founder and chief counsel respectively of Right to Rise, the super PAC that backed Bush for president, tell The Daily Caller that their organization had nothing to do with the dossier, which was first published on Tuesday by BuzzFeed.
Tim Miller, Bush’s former campaign communications director, also shot down reports that Bush was tied to the document.
Little was known about the 35-page report when BuzzFeed released it. Its author, financial backer and its very veracity were shrouded in mystery.
But on Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that former British spy Christopher Steele was the author of the document. Later in the day, The New York Times reported that Steele had been hired seven months ago by a Washington, D.C. opposition research firm called Fusion GPS. (RELATED: Oppo Firm Behind Trump Dossier Is Hired Gun For Planned Parenthood)
Steele’s work, which includes unverified information about Trump’s activities in Russia, was a continuation of a project that started in Sept. 2015, when a wealthy Republican donor hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump. But as Trump’s primary victory neared reality last year, the donor backed away from the project. But Fusion, which is run by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, found another client, a pro-Hillary Clinton Democrat, to pay for the research.
Steele reportedly turned the dossier over to the FBI last year. FBI director James Comey briefed Trump on a two-page summary on the document during a classified meeting last week, CNN reported late Thursday.
Though The Times did not name the GOP donor or the candidate they supported, several British outlets reported that a super PAC that supported Jeb Bush was behind the research project that formed the dossier.
BBC reporter Paul Wood said during a radio interview on Wednesday that the dossier was prepared by the former spy who was “working first for a super PAC supporting Jeb Bush.”
Wood, a highly regarded veteran reporter, repeated the Bush link in an article at the BBC and in another piece at The Spectator (both have since been corrected).
Reuters picked up the claim, and it has since spread to other outlets and on social media.
But Bush allies are strongly denying that the former Florida governor had any ties to the project.
“[Right to Rise] has no connection with this, and to the best of my knowledge neither do any of our donors,” Mike Murphy, a seasoned Republican consultant, told TheDC through email.
Spies, who served as treasurer and general counsel for the super PAC, offered a similar comment.
“There is no tie to Right to Rise, Jeb Bush, or even Bush donors, that we are aware of,” he told TheDC. He also said that a correction request had been submitted to Reuters.
By late Thursday, a correction had been added. In the edited piece, a spokeswoman for Bush also denied that he was involved in any facet of the dossier.
“It is absolutely not true that Governor Bush had any knowledge or involvement with this gentleman and his allegations,” Kristy Campbell told Reuters. “It’s nothing we’ve ever seen before.”
Miller, the Bush campaign communications director, also denied that the former Florida governor was linked to the dossier.
In response to a tweet noting that Reuters had corrected Miller wrote, “that’s because it was not true.”
He also suggested that if the Bush team had had information collected for the dossier they would have used it during the GOP primaries.
“This idea that GOP campaigns were sitting on explosive intelligence showing Trump was compromised by Russia and did nothing makes no sense,” Miller tweeted.
If a Bush supporter was behind the Fusion GPS project, it appears that the donor would have carried out the project independently of Jeb-world.
The Democratic donor who picked took over the research project has also not been identified.