The Washington Free Beacon says it hired intelligence firm Fusion GPS during the 2016 Republican presidential primary.
But the conservative news publication denies it had any knowledge or connection to the now-infamous dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump and Russia written by ex-British agent Christopher Steele, who was commissioned by Fusion GPS.
CNN reported in January that senior US intelligence officials briefed then-President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump about the dossier just weeks before Trump’s inauguration.
Earlier this week, CNN reported that the law firm that represented Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee hired the firm and entered “into an engagement for research services that began in April 2016 and concluded before the election in early November.”
CNN has previously reported the Fusion efforts researching Trump were first funded by Republican foes of Trump, and Democrats began paying the research firm later on, after he became the presumptive nominee.
Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz privately denied to congressional Russia investigators that they had any knowledge about an arrangement to pay for opposition research on Trump, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN earlier this week.
The Free Beacon said in a statement published on its website Friday that since its inception in February 2012, it “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,” the statement reads.
“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,” the statement adds.
According to the statement, Free Beacon representatives told the House Intelligence Committee Friday they would answer questions about the “ongoing probe of Fusion GPS and the Steele dossier.”
On October 20, Fusion GPS went to federal court to try to stop its bank from releasing financial details that could reveal the identities of its clients and benefactors, saying the subpoena for the records by House intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was too broad.
The subpoena is part of the committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of collusion with Russia during and since the campaign.
CNN’s Eli Watkins, Dan Merica, Katelyn Polantz, Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb and Miranda Green contributed to this report.