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Moscow's Red Square and Kremlin towers at dusk. Photo: Ivan Sekretarev / AP

The controversial dossier on President Trump's links to Russia has resurfaced with new reports that the Clinton campaign and the DNC, as well as conservative news outlet the Washington Free Beacon, were involved in funding the research behind it.

The big picture: The dossier is reportedly playing a role in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, but opinions on how credible and explosive it is vary widely. Trump and his supporters say it's a "fake" and the real scandal is Democratic involvement in funding it. Many of his critics embraced it immediately upon its publication by Buzzfeed News in January.

What is it?

The dossier is a set of 17 memos on Trump's alleged interactions with Russians, dated between June and December of 2016 and prepared by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer. Steele's services were contracted by Fusion GPS, a Washington-based investigative firm.

What's in it?

The dossier includes salacious but unverified claims about Russian intelligence officers possessing video tapes of Trump's conduct in a Moscow hotel room, which Steele contends could make him liable to blackmail, as well as claims about ties between his associates and Russia.

Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen wrote a letter to House investigators in August denying the claims about him in the dossier, which included that he traveled to Prague for meetings with Kremlin officials. Cohen said he has never been to Prague. Mueller's team met with Steele during the summer to discuss his findings.

Who paid for it?

Fusion GPS was hired by the Free Beacon, whose owner supported Marco Rubio's candidacy, to collect damaging information about Trump. After it became clear Trump would be the nominee, a lawyer representing Clinton and the DNC enlisted Fusion GPS, which in turn sought out Steele's services. The FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue his work after the election, but ultimately backed out when Steele was identified publicly.

Note: Trump tweeted this morning that Clinton paid $12 million for the information, but is "unclear how Trump arrived at" that figure, per the Post. The campaign paid the law firm that hired Fusion GPS a total of $9.2 million, but it's unclear how much of that was paid to Fusion GPS.

What's Trump saying?

Trump's claims that the dossier contains fake information and that the Russia investigation is a "witch hunt" have been emboldened by the revelation that a lawyer linked to Democrats bankrolled Fusion GPS. Sunday morning, he tweeted, "Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier ... Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia, / "collusion," which doesn't exist."

What's the Free Beacon saying?

The Free Beacon's chairman told the New York Times they had nothing to do with the dossier that was 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.

What's the DNC saying?

"Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in the decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization," said spokesman Xochitl Hinojosa said in statement.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”