Democrats helped fund Trump-Russia dossier: 6 things to know

Published: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 @ 4:31 PM

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a joint statement with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the Rose Garden of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a joint statement with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the Rose Garden of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign helped pay for research that was later included in an infamous dossier that detailed salacious accusations against President Donald Trump and allegations of connections between his campaign and Russian officials, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

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The newspaper reported that attorney Marc E. Elias, who was representing both the DNC and the Clinton campaign, retained a Washington firm called Fusion GPS for information on Trump in April 2016. The firm subsequently hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who would go on to pen the controversial dossier, according to the Post.

Here are six key things to know:

1. What is the “Steele Dossier?”

The so-called Steele Dossier, which was obtained by BuzzFeed and published in January, is a compilation of memos that includes lewd and unverified allegations against the president. It was compiled by Steele and focused on connections between Trump and Russian operatives, including claims of Trump campaign officials and surrogates sharing information with the Russian government.

2. Are any of the allegations true?

Multiple investigations have been launched into whether or not Trump or his campaign officials colluded with Russian officials to win the election.

The most salacious allegations made in the dossier, including a claim that Russian operatives secretly filmed Trump in a compromising position at a Russian hotel in 2013, have not been verified and might never be, according to the Post. However, despite the president’s claims that the dossier is fake, Sen. Sheldon White House, D-Rhode Island, said to Reuters earlier this month, “A good deal of his information remains unproven, but none of it has been disproven, and considerable amounts of it have been proven.”

He did not elaborate.

Sen. Burr Spoke About Allegations Russia Meddled in Election

3. Did Clinton or the DNC know about the dossier?

The Post reported that Fusion GPS officials gave Steele’s reports and other information to Elias, citing people familiar with the matter.

It was not immediately clear whether that information was then shared with DNC officials, or with the Clinton campaign.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was chair of the DNC when Fusion GPS was hired in 2016, told Fox News that she was unaware of the arrangement.

4. Who did know about the dossier?

Both Trump and former President Barack Obama were briefed on the dossier in a two-page synopsis attached to a larger report on allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, CNN reported in January.

The briefing, which was classified, was presented by four senior U.S. intelligence chiefs, including then-FBI Director James Comey.

Comey declined to discuss the dossier during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, citing the sensitive nature of the information.

>> Related: Read James Comey’s complete testimony before the Senate committee

5. Were Republicans involved in the dossier?

Before being hired by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS was collecting information on Trump on behalf of “an unknown Republican client,” the Post reported.

The client, apparently a GOP donor, paid for information on Trump’s background up until he won the Republican nomination, according to the Post.

6. What has Trump said about the dossier?

The president has repeatedly called the Steele dossier fake. He told reporters on Wednesday that, in light of the Post report, “The whole Russian thing is what it’s turned out to be.”

“This was the Democrats coming up with an excuse for losing an election,” he said.

Trump tweeted about the dossier Saturday, writing that the Justice Department or FBI “should immediately release who paid for it.”

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Mueller investigation: Lawyer pleads guilty to lying to investigators in Russia probe

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:26 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:26 PM

Robert Mueller - Fast Facts

An attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to lying to the FBI in the agency's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump's campaign.

The charges against lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan are the latest in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

READ MORE: Who is Rick Gates and why was he indicted by Robert Mueller?Who is Paul Manafort, the man indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation?What are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charged with?MORE

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Files First Charges

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House Oversight Committee launches probe into Rob Porter's employment

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 2:40 PM

Who is Rob Porter?

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating the White House’s employment of staff secretary Rob Porter in the wake of allegations that he abused his two ex-wives, committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, said Wednesday.

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Porter submitted his resignation Feb. 2.

Gowdy told CNN that the committee launched a probe Tuesday night into Porter’s employment and when White House officials knew about the domestic violence allegations levied against him.

Porter has denied any wrongdoing.

"We are directing inquiries to people that we think have access to information we don't have. You can call it official. You can call it unofficial,” Gowdy told CNN. “I'm going to direct questions to the FBI that I expect them to answer.”

Porter resigned Feb. 2 after his ex-wives went public with allegations of domestic abuse and said they spoke with federal authorities about the claims, prompting critics to question why he had remained employed in the Trump administration. The allegations held up a background check needed to grant Porter a security clearance for work in the White House. Officials said he was working on an interim security clearance.

The process to get Porter his clearance was ongoing at the time of his resignation.

“How do you have any job if you have credible allegations of domestic abuse?” Gowdy asked on CNN. “I am biased toward the victim.”

>> Related: White House ‘could have done better’ handling Rob Porter allegations, spokesman says

Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, and his second, Jennifer Willoughby, told the FBI about the alleged domestic violence in January 2017, after they were contacted while Porter was applying for his security clearance, according to The Washington Post.

White House officials defended Porter in the immediate aftermath of the allegations, and President Donald Trump has faced criticism for what critics called his lack of care for the victims and his focus on the fact that Porter has denied the claims.

“I was surprised by (the allegations), but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him,” Trump told reporters in Washington on Friday. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career. … It was very said when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with White House Secretary Rob Porter (C) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) (R) as they return to the White House December 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

Holderness told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive throughout their relationship, which started in 2000, but that things escalated after they were wed in June 2003. She said Porter kicked her during their honeymoon and during a 2005 vacation in Italy, punched her in the face.

Willoughby, who married Porter in November 2009 and separated from him in early 2010, told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive.

Willoughby obtained a protective order against Porter in June 2010 after she said he violated their separation agreement and refused to leave her apartment, according to court records obtained by The Daily Mail. In the complaint, Willoughby said Porter punched in a glass door while she was locked inside the apartment, but left after he heard she was on the phone with police.

She told the Mail that in December 2010, he dragged her out of a shower while she was naked in order to yell at her.

The couple was divorced in 2013.

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Veteran resident dies, receives patriotic farewell from nursing home

Published: Saturday, February 10, 2018 @ 12:20 PM

File image of the American flag.
Christopher Bruno, Freeimages
File image of the American flag.(Christopher Bruno, Freeimages)

A veterans nursing home in South Carolina honored a resident who died this week with a patriotic farewell that has gone viral.

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In a Facebook post, Laura Dorn thanked the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home in Anderson for taking such good care of her father, Doug Timmons, who had Alzheimer's disease and was a resident of the facility for the last three years. Dorn wrote that her father died early Thursday morning and the staff took the time to honor him for his service as his body was removed from the facility. In a video that Dorn posted, Timmons' body, draped with an American flag, is wheeled out as staff line up and a musical tribute plays.

In a Facebook review of the nursing home, Dorn thanked the "caring, accommodating and selfless" staff who she said treated her father like family. Dorn wrote, "They treated my Dad with dignity and respect from the first moment there until he drew his last breath, then sent him off with a hero's procession."

The video has received more than 3 million views.

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Trump thanks Putin for expelling U.S. diplomats

Published: Friday, August 11, 2017 @ 4:16 PM

President Donald Trump walks to Marine One before departing from the White House on August 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is traveling to Bedminster, N.J. for his summer break. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Donald Trump walks to Marine One before departing from the White House on August 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is traveling to Bedminster, N.J. for his summer break. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday said that he is “very thankful” that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to expel hundreds of U.S. diplomats, telling reporters in New Jersey that the decision will help the U.S. cut down on salaries.

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“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we will have a smaller payroll,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post. “There’s no real reason for them to go back. … We’re going to save a lot of money.”

The comments were Trump’s first addressing Putin’s decision last month to expel 755 diplomats and technical personnel from the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Russia, according to The Post.

Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 included a 29 percent cut of State Department funding, NPR reported.

But White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in an email to The New York Times on Friday that the president was making a joke.

“He was being sarcastic,” she told the newspaper.

Still, some lawmakers questioned Trump’s decision to praise Putin.

“After weeks of silence regarding Vladimir Putin's outrageous expulsion of hundreds of U.S. embassy personnel, President Trump once again let Russia off the hook and instead insulted America’s diplomats,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

“No doubt, the President's staff will eventually try to clean up after the parade by claiming it was a joke, but there's nothing funny about this,” he said.

According to Politico, “many, if not most, of the positions cut will likely be those of locally hired Russian staffers. The local staff who are let go will likely get severance payments, but cost savings are possible in the long run.”

Unidentified sources told the news site that most of the U.S. diplomats made to leave Russia will be moved to different posts.

Putin’s decision to kick American diplomats out of the country came in retaliation for sanctions placed on Russia by the U.S. Trump signed the bill, which passed with strong bipartisan support and required congressional approval to lift the restrictions, although he criticized it as being “seriously flawed.”

Vladimir Putin - Fast Facts

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