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.

>> Read more trending news

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.”

Related

Trending - Most Read Stories

Senate approves new reforms on Capitol Hill harassment

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 10:29 PM

Under growing pressure from the House to change how lawmakers deal with workplace harassment claims and damage awards, the Senate on Thursday approved a package of reforms that would not allow members to use taxpayer funds to pay any legal settlements, and change the process for Congressional employees to bring complaints against lawmakers.

“This is an incredibly important moment,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who joined with Senators in both parties to forge a compromise that was approved on a voice vote.

“We are completely overhauling the sexual harassment policies of the Congress,” Klobuchar said on the Senate floor.

“These reforms are commonsense,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who had been more and more vocal in recent days about the lack of action on a similar measure passed by the House.

Along with streamlining the process for employees to bring a complaint – and then have it evaluated by Congressional officials – the plan would force members to personally pay for any legal settlement, and not have taxpayers foot the bill.

“Hardworking taxpayers should not foot the bill for a Member’s misconduct, and victims should not have to navigate a system that stands in the way of accountability,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

The extra protections for employees would also be extended to unpaid staffers on Capitol Hill, including interns, legislative fellows, and detailees from other executive branch offices.

As the Senate approved the plan, the leaders of the House Ethics Committee confirmed that ex-Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) had reimbursed taxpayers for a $39,000 settlement involving a former female staffer in his office.

“We understand he sent that reimbursement payment to the Treasury. We welcome that action,” said ethics chair Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), and the top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), in a joint statement.

“There is overwhelming bipartisan consensus in the House that Members should be personally accountable for settlements paid with public funds to resolve claims against them alleging sexual harassment,” Brooks and Deutch wrote in a statement.

But what about when lawmakers leave the Congress? The ethics leaders said even then – they should still have to pay up.

Brooks and Deutch also noted that ex-Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) – who had resigned without following through on a promise to pay off an $84,000 settlement – was a perfect example of why the system needs to be changed.

“Farenthold publicly promised to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for $84,000 in funds paid to settle the lawsuit brought against him for claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation,” they wrote.

“Last week, he announced that he would not do so,” the two added.

The House and Senate must still hammer out a compromise measure between the bills passed by each chamber – but the Senate vote gives a new shot of energy to the effort, though there are House members who feel the Senate plan is not strong enough, especially in dealing with lawmakers.

“I’m optimistic that we can finish the job and get this bill signed into law,” Gillibrand added.

Trending - Most Read Stories

House OKs $182M Wright-Patt expansion, military pay raise

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:37 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:37 AM

House OKs $182M Wright-Patt expansion, military pay raise
House OKs $182M Wright-Patt expansion, military pay raise

The House has passed a $717 billion defense policy bill that would give the military a 2.6 percent pay hike, the largest in nine years and allow for a major expansion at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The bill OKs a massive $182 million expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at the base, one of the largest expansions in history.

The bipartisan 351-66 vote sends the measure to the Senate, where a key panel completed a companion measure in a closed-door session on Wednesday.

RELATED: Defense gets major increase pay raise for troops in budget plan

The new building would be funded at one time instead of broken into two stages. The Air Force had initially asked for $116 million with another $66 million to be requested in future years.

The annual measure sets policies and a budget outline for the Pentagon that are funded by a subsequent appropriations bill that typically follows its parameters fairly closely.

“To put it in perspective, this building would receive more military construction funding than Wright-Patterson received in military construction funding in the last nine years,” Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs, said earlier this month.

Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces pushed for multiple provisions included in the legislation including the NASIC expansion and expediting hiring of civilians into high-tech fields.

“All of the provisions I included in the National Defense Authorization Act remained in the bill and overwhelmingly passed the House today, bringing our community one step closer to getting $182 million for a new building at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Turner said in a statement. “I fought for key provisions in this bill to bolster our community, ensure the safety of our men and women in uniform, and keep our country secure.”

RELATED: Top Air Force leader to grads at Wright-Patt: ‘Our nation needs you desperately

The military got a major budget increase under the terms of a bipartisan pact passed earlier this year that the Pentagon's many allies in Washington promise will address shortfalls in military readiness such as pilot training, maintenance of equipment, and procurement of new weapons systems.

Readiness issues contributed to a situation in which almost four times as many military service members died in training accidents as opposed to combat. Just this spring, aviation accidents have claimed 25 lives.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said that the measure puts a particular focus on pilot training and retention.

"The key focus of this bill is restoring readiness to ensure that when our men and women in uniform go out on mission, they have the best equipment, the best training and the best support our nation can provide," Thornberry said.

The measure would block the use of operational military units or military equipment if President Donald Trump carries out plans for a massive military parade in Washington, D.C., if it would hamper military readiness.

Staff writer Barrie Barber and The Associated Press contributed to this report

Trending - Most Read Stories

“Situation normal” as Trump cancels summit with Kim Jong Un

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 2:58 PM

After days of increasingly bellicose statements from Pyongyang, President Donald Trump on Thursday pulled the plug on a scheduled June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but left the door open to future negotiations over efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

“If and when Kim Jong Un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am waiting,” the President said at the White House.

Mr. Trump’s remarks came several hours after he sent a letter to Kim Jong Un, calling off their summit, as U.S. officials laid the blame directly on the North Koreans.

“While many things can happen and a great opportunity lies ahead, potentially, I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and, indeed, a setback for the world,” the President said.

Both in his letter to Kim, and in his public remarks, the President edged back toward some of the tougher rhetoric that had characterized the Kim-Trump relationship of last year, when the two men lobbed threats of possible military action.

“Hopefully, positive things will be taking place with respect to the future of North Korea. But if they don’t, we are more ready than we have ever been before,” Mr. Trump said.

His letter was even more direct.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Mr. Trump wrote, labeling the cancelled summit a ‘missed opportunity.’

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers asked the Secretary of State – who happened to be at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – what would happen next, as Secretary Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would continue with the “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against Pyongyang, and wait for the response of Kim Jong Un.

“I am hopeful that we can continue to have conversations so that we can put his back on track,” Pompeo said, though he admitted it was not clear why the North Koreans suddenly went from being willing partners to not answering phone calls.

“I don’t really know I want to speculate why they took those actions, because I don’t think we know,” Pompeo added.

“In some ways, it’s situation normal,” Pompeo said to one question. “The pressure campaign continues.”

Pompeo sparred with several Senate Democrats during the hearing, as he rejected assertions that the U.S. had rushed into a summit with Kim, and wasn’t really prepared to deal with a North Korean leader who is known for sudden course changes.

“Unfortunately, it seems that our chief diplomat is negotiating war,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) of Pompeo.

“From the beginning, when Trump impulsively decided that he would meet with Kim Jong Un, it has been clear that the summit involved very little preparation,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“We cannot return to the name-calling and saber-rattling of the last year,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

Trending - Most Read Stories

President Trump scraps summit meeting with Kim Jong Un

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 9:58 AM

After days of uncertainty about a planned June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump on Thursday told Kim in a letter that because of hostile statements from the Pyongyang regime in recent days, the summit in Singapore would not take place.

“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is in appropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” the President wrote in his letter to Kim.

The decision came as North Korean officials seemed to back away from public assurances that they would give up on their nuclear weapons program, which had been Mr. Trump’s demand from the start – as the President delivered a clear warning to Kim about a possible conflict.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Here is the President’s letter to Kim Jong Un.

Trending - Most Read Stories