Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz both secretly denied to congressional Russia agents that they had any information around a game plan to pay for opposition research on President Donald Trump, sources told CNN.
One of the sources revealed that the closed-door meetings occurred before the current week’s disclosure that the Clinton campaign and DNC paid for the examination. Senate investigators may interrogate the two best Democrats further and dig deeper into the causes of the alleged Trump dossier.
Their comments to congressional investigators raise the stakes in their declaration that they don’t know anything about the financing since it’s illegal to put forth false expressions to Congress.
The White House has seized on the funding disclosures to ruin the progressing investigations concerning potential conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign. While the lewdest allegations in the dossier haven’t been verified.
The US intelligence community currently acknowledges its wide assertion that Russia pursued a campaign interfering the election.
In recent closed-door interviews with the Senate intelligence committee, Podesta and Wasserman Schultz said they did not know who had funded Fusion GPS, the intelligence firm that hired British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele to compile the dossier on Trump, the sources said.
Podesta was asked in his September interview whether the Clinton campaign had a contractual agreement with Fusion GPS, and he said he didn’t know about one, as indicated by one of the sources.
Sitting by Podesta amid the interview: his lawyer Marc Elias, who worked for the law office that employed Fusion GPS to continue research on Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC, multiple sources said. Elias was only there in his capacity as Podesta’s attorney and not as a witness.
On Tuesday, that law office, Perkins Coie, wrote in a letter that it had held Fusion GPS as a feature of its representation of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. The exposure of the Democratic funding source for Fusion GPS is bringing up new issues for the congressional Russian investigators. The Perkins Coie letter proposed its customers – the Clinton crusade and the DNC – did not find out about the issue until recently.
Senate knowledge Administrator Richard Burr revealed to CNN Wednesday that the revelation that Combination GPS had been paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC open up another line of request for the board to pursue after as part of its examination.
“This gives us the capacity to interface a few specks that we couldn’t do before this,” Burr said. “Also, any examination when you have a disclosure this huge, it begins to clarify some pictures that you were already trying to understand. This … will require us to dig a lot deeper in some areas that maybe a week ago we weren’t planning to.”
As Fox News reported, the controversial dossier contained unverified and lurid allegations about dirt the Russians had on then-candidate Donald Trump and his campaign’s possible connections to Moscow.
The Washington Post reported this earlier week — and Fox News confirmed — that the political consulting firm Fusion GPS was retained last year by Marc E. Elias, an attorney representing the DNC and the Clinton campaign. The firm then hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to write the now-infamous dossier.
According to the report, the Clinton campaign and DNC paid more than $9 million to Elias’ firm Perkins Coie that, in turn, retained the political consultants who commissioned the research. Before that, the research was backed by an unknown Republican client.
It’s still unclear how much of that $9 million went toward the dossier. And it’s unclear who exactly at the Clinton campaign and DNC might have known how it was being spent.
The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, declined to comment through a spokesperson.
The House intelligence committee has also addressed Podesta as part of its Russia investigation. But the dossier and Fusion GPS were not discussed in that interview, as per one source familiar with the investigation.
Republicans on the House intelligence committee are trying to subpoena monetary records of Fusion GPS in order to learn who paid for the research. The issue is currently in the midst of a court battle as Fusion GPS is looking for a directive to stop the release.
Additionally, Trump told reporters Wednesday that the Clinton campaign and DNC’s inclusion with the dossier is an “extremely depressing discourse on legislative issues in this nation.”