President Trump is wondering who paid for the controversial dossier that made salacious but unverified claims about his ties to Russia a day after two executives from a Washington research firm that helped produce the document refused to answer questions in a private meeting with the House Intelligence Committee.
“Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th,” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?”
Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2017
According to Bloomberg, the executives, Fusion GPS partners Peter Fritsch and Thomas Catan, invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination during their session with the House panel probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Their lawyer, Joshua Levy, told the news service that a “Trump cabal has carried out a campaign to demonize our client for having been tied to the Trump dossier.”
The dossier, which was prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele, was published online shortly before Trump’s inauguration. It contained allegations that Trump’s associates colluded with the Kremlin and claimed that Russians held compromising material on Trump.
Both Trump and then-President Barack Obama were briefed on its contents by intelligence officials. After the dossier was published, Trump vigorously denied the allegations, calling them “fake news.”
Steele began working on the opposition-research document in June 2016 for Fusion GPS on behalf of a Democratic client. According to the Washington Post, the firm “began doing Trump research in early 2016, before it hired Steele, on behalf of a Republican opposed to the businessman’s candidacy.”
In February the Post reported that the FBI, which had previously hired Steele to research corruption in professional soccer, had reached an agreement shortly before the election to pay him to continue his work on Trump. But the bureau ultimately did not pay Steele after the dossier leaked online.
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