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Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Although it has been known that Republicans first hired the firm behind the Trump-Russia dossier, it wasn't known which Republican group hired them — until now. The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, hired Fusion GPS (the firm) in 2015 to collect damaging information on various Republican presidential candidates, per NYT. They reportedly told Fusion GPS to stop collecting research on Trump when it became clear he was going to become the party's nominee.

Why it matters: The Free Beacon's chairman told NYT they had nothing to do with the dossier that the firm ultimately produced. "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," they said in a statement.

Don't forget: Fusion GPS has been in the news once already this week. Earlier, it was reported that Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid the firm to conduct research about Trump and his business dealings, which led to the dossier.

Big picture: Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe is certainly going to focus on the Trump-Russia dossier at some point. The Clinton-DNC news suggests that it was an attempt to discredit Trump, at least initially, and tied closely to her campaign. And The Free Beacon's New York hedge fund billionaire, Paul Singer, further complicates things with Trump: he has visited the White House and earlier he donated $1 million to the Trump's inaugural fund.

Go deeper

White House nominates Rick Spinrad as NOAA leader

In this NOAA GOES-East satellite handout image, Hurricane Dorian, a Cat. 4 storm, moves slowly past Grand Bahama Island on September 2, 2019. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)

The White House on Thursday evening nominated Rick Spinrad, an oceanographer at Oregon State University, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why it matters: Filling the NOAA slot would complete the Biden administration's leadership on the climate and environment team. The agency, located within the Commerce Department, houses the National Weather Service and conducts much of the nation's climate science research.

2 hours ago - World

Israeli officials will object to restoration of Iran deal in D.C. visit

Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the delegation traveling to Washington, D.C. next week for strategic talks on Iran to stress their objection to a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss its contents, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: That position is similar to the one Israel took in the year before the 2015 nuclear deal was announced, which led to a rift between the Israeli government and the Obama administration. History could now repeat itself.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases aren't budging — even after vaccinations doubled— Health care workers feel stress, burnout more than a year into the pandemic — Handful of "breakthrough" COVID cases occurred in nursing homes, CDC says.
  2. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson's vaccine production problems look even bigger — All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine.
  3. Political: Watchdog says agency infighting increased health and safety risks at start of pandemic.
  4. World: EU regulator: Benefits of J&J vaccine outweigh risk of rare blood clots.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.