Just days after The Washington Post revealed that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) funded Fusion GPS as they produced the unverified Trump dossier, a new report indicates that former President Barack Obama's campaign organization might have played a part in financing the project as well.
Records filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) revealed that Obama’s official campaign organization, Obama For America (OFA), has given over $972,000 to Perkins Coie since last year — the same law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC which hired Fusion GPS to conduct “research” on then-candidate Donald Trump, The Federalist reported.
Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC at Perkins Coie, hired Fusion GPS in April 2016 to dig up damaging information on Trump. To carry out the task, Fusion GPS hired former British spy Christopher Steele who then got unverified information about Trump from officials in Russia.
Obama’s campaign made its first payment to Perkins Coie at the same time the law firm hired Fusion GPS — in April 2016:
OFA, Obama’s official campaign arm in 2016, paid nearly $800,000 to Perkins Coie in 2016 alone, according to FEC records. The first 2016 payments to Perkins Coie, classified only as “Legal Services,” were made April 25-26, 2016, and totaled $98,047. A second batch of payments, also classified as “Legal Services,” were disbursed to the law firm on September 29, 2016, and totaled exactly $700,000. Payments from OFA to Perkins Coie in 2017 totaled $174,725 through August 22, 2017. …
The timing and nature of the payments to Perkins Coie by Obama’s official campaign arm raise significant questions about whether OFA was funding Fusion GPS, how much Obama and his team knew about the contents and provenance of the dossier long before its contents were made public, and whether the president or his government lieutenants knowingly used a partisan political document to justify official government actions targeting the president’s political opponents named in the dossier.
The fact that the Obama campaign started pumping money into Perkins Coie while the law firm hired Fusion GPS raises serious concerns about whether Obama was funding Fusion GPS’ opposition research efforts — efforts that eventually produced the Russian dossier.
It also raises questions about how much Obama and his staff knew about the origins of and the information contained in the dossier — and if they used a politically motivated document to justify government actions against the Trump campaign:
At the same time that Hillary’s campaign, Obama’s campaign organization, and the DNC were simultaneously paying Perkins Coie, the spouse of one of Fusion GPS’s key employees was working directly for Obama in the West Wing. Shailagh Murray, a former Washington Post reporter-turned-political operative, was serving as a top communications adviser to Obama while the Obama administration was reportedly using information from the dossier to justify secret surveillance of Trump campaign staff.
Murray is married to Neil King, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who was hired by Fusion GPS in December of 2016. While at the Wall Street Journal, King worked alongside Fusion GPS’s core team, even sharing bylines with Glenn Simpson, the Fusion GPS executive who personally hired Steele to probe Trump’s alleged Russia connections.
Lawyers for Steele admitted in April of this year, in court filings, that the dossier is not verified and was never meant to be seen by the public — which raises further questions about the dossier's official purpose.
The Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan legal group, filed a complaint with the FEC last week claiming that the Clinton campaign and the DNC broke campaign finance laws because they did not accurately report payments they made related to the Trump dossier — payments that totaled well over $9 million between the two organizations:
- This complaint is filed pursuant to 52 U.S.C. § 30109(a)(1) and is based on information providing reason to believe that the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”)(C00010603) and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign committee Hillary for America (C00575795) have failed to file accurate reports, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (“FECA”), 52 U.S.C. § 30101, et seq., and Commission regulations.
- Specifically, the DNC and Hillary for American reported dozens of payments totaling millions of dollars to the law firm Perkins Coie with the purpose described as “Legal Services” or “Legal and Compliance Consulting,” when in reality, at least some of those payments were earmarked for the firm Fusion GPS, with the purpose of conducting opposition research on Donald Trump. By failing to file accurate reports, the DNC and Hillary for America undermined the vital public information role that reporting is intended to serve.
- “If the Commission, upon receiving a complaint . . . has reason to believe that a person has committed, or is about to commit, a violation of [FECA] . . . [t]he Commission shall make an investigation of such alleged violation. . . .” 52 U.S.C. § 30109(a)(2) (emphasis added); see also 11 C.F.R. § 111.4(a) (emphasis added).