Tampa Bay Times
CONSERVATIVE OUTLET FIRST TO PAY RESEARCH FIRM
A conservative publication said Friday it paid a Washington research firm to start investigating Donald Trump’s background — a move that set in motion a chain of events leading to an explosive dossier alleging ties between Trump associates and Russia. In a statement, the Washington Free Beacon said it retained Fusion GPS to provide research on multiple Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election. Two people familiar with billionaire GOP donor Paul Singer told the Washington Post that he provides financial support to the publication. But the Free Beacon said its research ended before Fusion GPS hired a former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, to produce a series of reports alleging links between Russia and those close to Trump. After the Free Beacon stopped paying Fusion GPS, the research firm offered in April 2016 to continue researching Trump for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. That work came to include hiring Steele to examine Trump’s possible ties to the Kremlin.