Tampa Bay Times

CONSERVATI­VE OUTLET FIRST TO PAY RESEARCH FIRM

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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.

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