Washington Free Beacon admits hiring Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump

The conservative publication Washington Free Beacon admits that it hired Fusion GPS to do opposition research on Donald Trump during the GOP primaries.  The relationship between WFB and Fusion began in October 15, 2015 and ended in March 2016, when Trump was assured of the GOP nomination.

In a "Note to Readers," the Free Beacon explains the relationship:

Since its launch in February of 2012, the Washington Free Beacon has retained third party firms to conduct research on many individuals and institutions of interest to us and our readers. In that capacity, during the 2016 election cycle we retained Fusion GPS to provide research on multiple candidates in the Republican presidential primary, just as we retained other firms to assist in our research into Hillary Clinton. All of the work that Fusion GPS provided to the Free Beacon was based on public sources, and none of the work product that the Free Beacon received appears in the Steele dossier. The Free Beacon had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele. Nor did we have any knowledge of the relationship between Fusion GPS and the Democratic National Committee, Perkins Coie, and the Clinton campaign. 

That WFB hired Fusion is unremarkable.  They obviously had no way of knowing that Fusion would eventually be retained by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to create a spurious dossier on Donald Trump, nor could they have been aware of the attempts by the Clinton campaign to hide their involvement through the law firm of Perkins Coie.

The Free Beacon informed the House Intelligence Committee of their relationship with Fusion and have agreed to cooperate fully in the investigation.

The Free Beacon is largely funded by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, a prominent backer of Marco Rubio during the primary campaign. 

Daily Caller:

Singer, a heavy donor to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and prominent critic of Trump, is the Free Beacon's largest funder, an associate of the billionaire told The Times. An associate of his told the newspaper that he was unaware of the dossier until it was published by BuzzFeed in January. It is not clear from that report if Singer was aware of the Free Beacon's hiring of Fusion.

Singer's spokespeople have fielded inquires from The Daily Caller about his possible involvement with Fusion GPS, but they declined to provide their comments on the record. His chief spokesman did not respond to phone calls Friday night.

Singer has reportedly worked with Fusion GPS in the past. Intelligence Online reported in 2014 that Singer hired the opposition research firm to help wage a public relations campaign against the Argentinian government in a dispute over a multi-billion dollar debt investment.

A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee pointed to the Free Beacon's statement denying any involvement with Steele or the dossier.

"The Beacon has agreed to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee to help the Committee verify this assertion," the spokesman told The DC.

The left will try to hype this story with its typical "Republicans do it too, only worse!" narrative, but really, this is a nothingburger.  It's a complete coincidence that WFB hired the same firm that developed a document to smear Trump, although Fusion has a reputation that Singer was obviously aware of.  

The Free Beacon claims that Fusion only examined "public sources" for the oppo research, which is standard operating procedure.  It's dreary, tedious work, going through thousands of news stories from hundreds of news outlets to capture a nugget or two of information that was previously unreported.  Campaigns and national committees also hire firms like Fusion to perform similar tasks. 

It should also be noted that WFB never contacted any Russians or worked with any Russians on gathering this research.  We have yet to see Fusion's bank records or hear any testimony on how the Russian government was involved in the creation of that dossier.

The Washington Free Beacon has opened itself to criticism for using a firm with a questionable reputation even before the dossier story broke.  But as far as doing anything out of the ordinary by hiring Fusion to research an opposition candidate, there's nothing there.

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