Hillary Clinton has endorsed the idea of obtaining political dirt from overseas, saying her campaign’s Kremlin-sourced dossier was “part of what happens in a campaign.”
President Trump is taking heat from Democrats for telling ABC News on Wednesday that he would listen to negative information from a foreign country about a political opponent in 2020.
That is basically the same position Mrs. Clinton took when she was interviewed on Nov. 1, 2017, on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”
A week earlier, the nation learned that the Christopher Steele dossier, with its dozen conspiracy charges against Trump associates, was financed by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The Robert Mueller report effectively destroyed the dossier. His 22-month investigation failed to establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the election that Mrs. Clinton lost.
Mrs. Clinton was asked on the show about the dossier, whose sources are listed in the document as Kremlin intelligence and government leaders.
“It’s part of what happens in a campaign where you get information that may or may not be useful and you try to make sure anything you put out in the public arena is accurate,” she said. “So this thing didn’t come out until after the election, and it’s still being evaluated.”
She provided this chronology: “When Trump got the nomination of the Republican Party, the people doing it came to my campaign lawyer and said, ‘Would you like us to continue it?’” she said. “He said ‘yes.’ He is an experienced lawyer. He knows what the law is. He knows what opposition research is.”
Work on the dossier didn’t begin until June 2016 when Fusion GPS, Mrs. Clinton’s opposition research firm, sought funds from her campaign, via her law firm, to pay Mr. Steele.
Mr. Steele’s claims about Mr. Trump did surface before Election Day, though the dossier didn’t.
Fusion arranged for Mr. Steele to brief a number of Washington reporters. Yahoo News published a story in September outlining Mr. Steele’s assertions that a Trump volunteer, Carter Page, had discussed bribes with top associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin in exchange for removing U.S. sanctions.
The Clinton campaign quickly cited the story.
Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s communications director, said on one broadcast, “Michael Isikoff had a piece yesterday about Carter Page, who is a foreign policy adviser of Trump’s and that he had met with someone from the Kremlin that … according to Michael’s reporting, U.S. intelligence officials believe is behind the hack.”
The Mueller report cleared Mr. Page of collusion with Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.
Also before the election, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, wrote a letter to the FBI summarizing Mr. Steele’s charges. The letter was leaked to The New York Times, which published a story.
Clinton operatives busily circulated the dossier before and after the election.
A Fusion GPS middleman took the dossier to the FBI on several occasions. Perkins Coie, Mrs. Clinton’s law firm, also tried to present Mr. Steele’s charges to the Justice Department.
The FBI put the dossier to extensive use. It cited Mr. Steele to judges to obtain a wiretap on Mr. Page for a year and briefed President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.
FBI agents were briefed by Mr. Steele in July 2016 and again in October in Europe.
The FBI offered Mr. Steele $50,000 to continue investigating Mr. Trump, though it never confirmed the former British spy’s allegations.
The Justice Department inspector general is investigating how the FBI used the dossier. In addition, Attorney General William Barr has tapped John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to investigate how the Obama Justice Department and FBI decided to target the Trump campaign.
Perkins Coie briefed the Clinton campaign on the dossier, according to testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The communications director for Mr. Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign took to Twitter to slam the media’s “selective” memory.
“The selective outrage and short memory of the media are staggering. The DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign actually PAID FOR the discredited, fake Steele Dossier, which was compiled by a foreign national and contained information from alleged Russian sources,” Tim Murtaugh wrote.
The selective outrage and short memory of the media are staggering. The DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign actually PAID FOR the discredited, fake Steele Dossier, which was compiled by a foreign national and contained information from alleged Russian sources.— Tim Murtaugh (@TimMurtaugh) June 13, 2019
• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.
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