It was revealed Friday that popular conservative news website The Washington Free Beacon was the original funder for Donald Trump research at Clinton-linked Fusion GPS, the same organization that eventually created the so-called "anti-Trump dossier."
Lawyers for the Free Beacon revealed their ties to Fusion GPS during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, according to the Washington Examiner.
The lawyers said the Free Beacon funded their research project beginning in the fall of 2015, but later withdrew the funding in the spring of 2016. However, the research covered multiple Republican presidential candidates, not just Trump. The research also had nothing to do with Russia.
It's not clear why the organization stopped funding the research, which was later continued by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
How did the Free Beacon respond?
In a short statement, Free Beacon editor Matthew Continetti confirmed his organization retained Fusion GPS to conduct research on Republican candidates, just as they had retained other research organizations to do the same on Clinton. This is normal for newsrooms without full-time researchers.
Continetti maintained that research produced on Trump had nothing to with Russia, the anti-Trump dossier or Christopher Steele, former British intelligence officer who compiled the dossier:
All of the work that Fusion GPS provided to the Free Beacon was based on public sources, and none of the work product that the Free Beacon received appears in the Steele dossier. 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. Nor did we have any knowledge of the relationship between Fusion GPS and the Democratic National Committee, Perkins Coie, and the Clinton campaign.
Continetti was also unapologetic for using Fusion to help research Republican candidates:
To be clear: We stand by our reporting, and we do not apologize for our methods. We consider it our duty to report verifiable information, not falsehoods or slander, and we believe that commitment has been well demonstrated by the quality of the journalism that we produce. The First Amendment guarantees our right to engage in news-gathering as we see fit, and we intend to continue doing just that as we have since the day we launched this project.