White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders chastised the press on Thursday for not covering testimony given in the Senate about the opposition research firm behind the Trump dossier.
“You guys love to talk about Russia and there’s been nonstop coverage, and the one day that there might have been a question on Russia, there wasn’t,” Sanders said at the end of Thursday’s daily press briefing.
She pointed to testimony given before the Senate Judiciary Committee by Bill Browder, a London-based businessman who has been investigated by Fusion GPS, the Washington, D.C.-based firm that also financed the dossier. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Oppo Research Firm Behind Trump Dossier Worked On Pro-Kremlin Lobbying Effort)
Sanders asserted that Browder’s testimony “further discredited the phony dossier that’s been the source of so much of the fake news and conspiracy theories.”
“And we learned that the firm that produced it was also being paid by the Russians.”
During the same period that Fusion GPS was working on the dossier, the firm was also working on behalf of a Russian businessman and Kremlin-connected lawyer to rollback the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 sanctions law spearheaded in the U.S. by Browder.
Fusion’s job was to discredit Browder and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered an alleged $230 million money laundering scheme perpetrated against Browder’s businesses in Russia. Magnitsky was arrested and jailed after uncovering the scheme, and he died in a Russian jail in 2009. Browder alleges that Magnitsky was tortured and beaten to death because of his role in the investigation.
Fusion’s work on the dossier reportedly began last June after a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s hired the firm to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. The firm hired former British spy Christopher Steele to conduct the investigation. He would go on to produce 35 pages of memos dated between June 20 and Dec. 13.
The dossier, which was published by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10, has reportedly been used by the FBI as the basis for some of its investigation into potential links between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
But Fusion GPS’s involvement in the dossier — both because of its politically-motivated client and because of the firm’s work for pro-Kremlin interests — has led many to question the veracity of the document.
While Browder’s main concern is the Magnitsky Act, he told The Daily Caller in January that he questioned the accuracy of the dossier because of Fusion GPS’s involvement in the project.
And on Thursday, Browder alleged that Fusion GPS pitched false stories about him and Magnitsky to various news outlets in an attempt to smear him.
While Browder has no insight into Fusion’s work on the dossier, the White House jumped on his criticism of the firm’s work in order to discredit the anti-Trump document it produced.
“This is yet the latest piece of evidence that vindicates what the president said, that this is a witch hunt and a hoax,” Sanders told reporters. “And it’s a shame that the president and the country have this to go through this charade and hopefully this will help us move forward in that process.”