The timeline that fired FBI Director James B. Comey provided to lawmakers on who funded the anti-Trump dossier conflicts with court filings and congressional testimony.
Mr. Comey, in House testimony for which a transcript was released Tuesday, maintained that Republicans first financed the dossier, then the Democrats.
But testimony by the dossier writer, ex-spy Christopher Steele, and others show the dossier didn’t exist until Fusion GPS engaged Mr. Steele in May-June 2016. By that time, a Republican funding opposition research with Fusion had bowed out two months earlier.
Fusion went to the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee to win funding to hire Mr. Steele, who in June wrote dossier memos accusing Mr. Trump of colluding with Moscow.
Republicans consider the dossier a huge black eye for the FBI because it embraced the other party’s opposition research to obtain wiretaps on at least one Trump volunteer and to target others.
This all happened under Mr. Comey’s watch. He signed the first surveillance warrant that attested to the dossier’s accuracy.
In testimony before a House Judiciary-Oversight task force on Monday in closed session, Mr. Comey repeated the oft-stated liberal view that a Republican-funded the dossier first.
“It was Republicans opposed to Trump, and then it was Democrats opposed to Trump,” Mr. Comey testified.
“I remember being told that Steele’s work had been funded first by Republicans opposed to Trump, then by Democrats opposed to Trump,” he said. “To me, it didn’t matter.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, disagreed. “It does make a difference,” he said. “If someone is paying for this and you’re actually using that information to surveil American citizens …. it does matter to me and most Americans.”
Today, none of Mr. Steele’s series of felony charges against President Trump and his associates has been proven publicly. Some have been shown to be far-fetched.
Republican Paul Singer and his Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion for general opposition research in 2015 into Trump that didn’t rely on Mr. Steele or focus on Russia. The relationship ended in April 2016 when it appeared Mr. Trump would win the nomination, according to Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson.
One month to two months later, Mr. Steele entered the picture and the dossier was born.
Mr. Steele said in a court declaration in London, where he is being used for libel, that, “Between June and early November 2016 [Mr. Steele] was engaged by Fusion to prepare a series of confidential memoranda based on intelligence concerning Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election process and links between Russia and Donald Trump.”
Mr. Simpson told Congress he engaged Mr. Steele in May or June 2016.
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at email@example.com.
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