There has been much confusion in the media — and thereby, the public — about who funded the infamous Trump dossier. Some outlets have incorrectly reported that Republicans began financing the dossier before the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee took over last Spring.
But that is incorrect. Democrats are solely responsible for the dossier, which was passed around by their research firm, Fusion GPS, to Beltway reporters and select lawmakers during the heat of the presidential campaign.
Here is the definitive timeline of how it all transpired.
Oct. 2015: It was reported late Friday that the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website funded by GOP mega-donor Paul Singer, hired Fusion GPS to investigate Trump. Free Beacon’s editor said Friday that the research was standard opposition research and that it was not tied to the dossier work that would follow several months later. It is not clear what, if anything, Singer knew about Free Beacon’s hiring of Fusion. The hedge fund manager was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s biggest backer.
Feb. 20, 2016: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush drops from the Republican primary.
March: Fusion GPS approached Perkins Coie, the law firm for the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. Perkins Coie general counsel revealed this week that Fusion offered to continue Trump opposition research it had started while working for a Republican candidate.
March 15: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio drops from the Republican primary after losing to Trump in his home state.
April: Perkins Coie, using money from the Clinton campaign and DNC, hires Fusion GPS. Marc Elias, a Perkins Coie partner and general counsel for both the campaign and DNC, would serve as the bagman.
That month, Federal Election Commission records show that the Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie a total of $150,000 for legal services. The DNC paid the firm around $107,000. It is unclear how much of that went to Fusion GPS. Both the campaign and DNC would pay Perkins Coie hundreds of thousands more dollars throughout the campaign.
May: Free Beacon ends its contract with Fusion.
May 3-4: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz drops out of the Republican primary on May 3. Ohio Gov. John Kasich drops out of the next day, leaving Trump as the only GOP candidate.
June: Fusion GPS hires former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his London-based firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. Steele discloses this in court filings earlier this year as part of a lawsuit he faces over the dossier. Steele said he worked for Fusion GPS from June through November.
June 20: Steele writes first memo of the dossier. It alleges that Trump used prostitutes during a visit to Moscow in 2013 and that the Kremlin was blackmailing him with the evidence. The memo also alleges that the Trump campaign was engaged in a well-orchestrated collusion campaign with Russian operatives.
July 5: Steele provides his research to an FBI contact, The New York Times has reported. The documents made their way to FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzock two weeks later.
July: Chatter began appearing on social media referring to damning information about Trump’s ties to Russia. Republican strategist Rick Wilson told The New York Times back in January, after the dossier was published, that he was first asked about the document by a reporter in July.
July 26: A Wall Street Journal reporter contacts Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser, about allegations made about him in the dossier. Page disclosed that detail last month in a lawsuit he filed against the parent company of Yahoo! News, which republished claims from the dossier last September. (RELATED: Carter Page Sues Yahoo! News Over Dossier-Based Article)
Late July: The FBI opens a counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Aug. 25: Then-CIA Director John Brennan briefs then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid about possible links between Trump associates and Russian operatives. According to The New York Times, officials in the meeting said that Brennan “indicated that unnamed advisers to Mr. Trump might be working with the Russians to interfere in the election.”
September: The FBI obtained a surveillance warrant from a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Carter Page. The application for the warrant reportedly cited the dossier as evidence.
Late September: In court filings in London, where he is being sued, Steele says that he briefed reporters at several news outlets following instructions from Fusion GPS. Steele briefed The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The New Yorker and Yahoo! News.
Sept. 23: Yahoo News publishes an article that, it is now known, relied heavily on the dossier’s claims about Page. The article, from veteran journalist Michael Isikoff, contains allegations that Page met secretly with Russian government officials that July in Moscow. Page has denied the allegation and is suing Yahoo! over the article.
October: Steele met with FBI agents who offered to pay the former spy to continue his investigation of Trump.
Mid-October: Steele, again acting on directions from Fusion, met with reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Yahoo! News.
Oct. 31: Earlier in October, Steele conducted an interview on Skype with Mother Jones reporter David Corn. Corn published a piece referring to Steele as a “Western intelligence official” who had compiled information on Trump’s ties to Russia.
November: The contract between the Democrats, Fusion and Steele ends along with the presidential campaign.
Nov. 18: Arizona Sen. John McCain and a former assistant, David Kramer, are told about the existence of the dossier by an associate of Steele’s, former British diplomat Sir Andrew Wood. Kramer travels to London later that month to meet with Steele and find out more about the dossier. Steele forwards a copy of the dossier to Fusion, Kramer and McCain.
Dec. 9: McCain provides a copy of the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey during a meeting at the latter’s office.
Dec. 13: Steele writes the final memo of the dossier. It alleges that a Russian tech executive used his companies to hack into the DNC’s email systems. The executive, Aleksej Gubarev, denied the allegations after the dossier was published by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10, 2017. He is suing both BuzzFeed and Steele.
Jan. 6: Comey and other intelligence community officials brief then-President-elect Trump on some of the allegations made in the dossier.
Jan. 10: CNN reports that the briefing of Trump took place four days earlier. Citing that reporting as justification, BuzzFeed publishes the dossier.
March 15: Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrel, a supporter of Clinton’s, casts doubt on the dossier and Steele’s sourcing.
Morrel said that the revelation that Steele paid intermediaries to obtain information that wound up in the dossier “kind of worries me a little bit.”
“If you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, ‘Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,’ because they want to get paid some more,” said Morell.
Aug. 22: Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson meets with the Senate Judiciary Committee for 10 hours but refuses to disclose the identity of his clients.
Sept. 18: Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he was unaware of who paid for the dossier. It would later be reported that Podesta was sitting next to the man who actually did pay for the document, his attorney, Marc Elias. Elias apparently did not speak up during the interview to take responsibility for the dossier. (RELATED: John Podesta Denied Knowing Who Paid For Dossier)
Oct. 4: The House Intelligence Committee issues subpoenas to Fusion’s three co-founders as well as to its bank, TD Bank. One goal of the subpoenas was to find out Fusion’s clients’ identities.
Oct. 18: Two Fusion partners, Peter Fritsch and Thomas Catan, plead the Fifth during House Intelligence Committee interviews.
Oct. 20: Fusion GPS files a request for an injunction attempting to block the release of its bank records.
Oct. 24: Perkins Coie, the law firm for the Clinton campaign and DNC, reveals itself as Fusion’s dossier client. The Washington Post reports Elias’ involvement.
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