"I learned about the dossier a few days ago, ok?" Perez said.
"You hire a lawyer and we hire lawyers all the time who hire third party vendors to do their work and so we knew that we were paying for opposition research at the DNC, but we didn't ask questions about who they're hiring in the context of doing their research," Perez added.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said Wednesday that he learned within the last few days about the DNC’s role in funding the dossier of allegations about Donald Trump and Russia.
CNN reported Tuesday that, according to a source familiar with the matter, the law firm Perkins Coie entered into an agreement with the intelligence firm behind the dossier, Fusion GPS, as part of its representation of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC. That agreement, according to the source, was for “research services that began in April 2016 and concluded before the election in early November.”
In an event at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, Perez, who was elected to DNC chair in February of this year, was asked by The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty if the DNC knew what was in the dossier before the election.
“Well, again, you’re gonna have to ask folks who were at the DNC at that time,” Perez responded.
When Tumulty followed up by asking if he had asked about the dossier within the DNC, Perez said, “Well, no, I learned about the dossier a few days ago, ok?”
The remarks are Perez’s most specific comments on when he learned of the DNC’s role.
“You hire a lawyer and we hire lawyers all the time who hire third party vendors to do their work and so we knew that we were paying for opposition research at the DNC, but we didn’t ask questions about who they’re hiring in the context of doing their research,” Perez added. “And what we know is that Donald Trump, you know, we had very strong reason to believe that Donald Trump and the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians, were potentially conspiring to affect the election for the President of the United States.”
The DNC chair added he find people’s interest in the story curious given candidates conduct opposition research all the time.
“I find this issue somewhat curious because here’s a news flash, candidates conduct research on their opponents and in the case of Donald Trump, the imperative for that is, to not do that is political malpractice,” Perez said. “Why? Because Donald Trump refused to release so many documents.”