From Consortium News
The revelation that Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped pay for the notorious "Steele Dossier" of hearsay claims about Donald Trump's relations with Russia is not surprising but is noteworthy, given how long the mystery about the funding was allowed to linger.
Another mild surprise is that the Clinton campaign would have had a direct hand in the financing rather than maintaining an arm's length relationship to the dossier by having some "friend of the campaign" make the payments and giving Clinton more deniability.
Instead, the campaign appears to have relied on its lawyer, Marc E. Elias of Perkins Coie, and a confidentiality agreement to provide some insulation between Clinton and the dossier's startling claims which presumably helped inform Clinton's charge in the final presidential debate that Trump was Russian President Vladimir Putin's "puppet." Indeed, how much Clinton personally knew about the dossier and its financing remains an intriguing question for investigators.
Ultimately, the facts about who commissioned the dossier were forced out by a congressional Republican subpoena seeking the bank records of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele to compile the opposition research, known as "oppo," against Trump.
As part of the legal wrangling over that subpoena, the Clinton/DNC law firm, Perkins Coie, wrote a letter releasing Fusion GPS from its confidentiality agreement.
After that letter, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday night that the Clinton campaign and the DNC had helped fund the Steele effort with attorney Elias retaining Fusion GPS in April 2016 and with Fusion GPS then hiring Steele.
The Post reported that "people familiar with the matter" disclosed that outline of the arrangement but still would not divulge how much the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid to Fusion GPS. One source told me that the total amount came to about $1 million.
"Trash for Cash"
An irony about Hillary Clinton's role in funding allegations about Trump's connection to the Russians, including claims that he cavorted with prostitutes in a five-star Moscow hotel while Russian intelligence operatives secretly filmed him, is that the Clinton camp bristled when Bill Clinton was the subject of Republican "oppo" that surfaced salacious charges against him. The Clintons dismissed such accusations as "cash for trash."
Nevertheless, just as conspiratorial accusations about the Clintons gave rise to the Whitewater investigation and a rash of other alleged "scandals," which bedeviled Bill Clinton's presidency, the Steele Dossier -- also known as the "Dirty Dossier" -- provided a map that investigators have followed for the ongoing Russia-gate investigation into President Trump.
Much like those Clinton allegations, Steele's accusations have had a dubious track record for accuracy, with U.S. government investigators unable to corroborate some key claims but, I'm told, believing that some are true nonetheless.
In the 1990s, even though the core allegations of wrongdoing about the Clintons and their Whitewater land deal collapsed, the drawn-out investigation eventually unearthed Bill Clinton's sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and led to his impeachment in the House although he was acquitted in a Senate trial.
Some Democrats have openly hoped for the impeachment of President Trump, too, and they have hitched many of those hopes to the Russia-gate bandwagon.