Soros-Backed Group Paid $3.8M to Firms Linked to Anti-Trump Dossier Creators
Firms tied to Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele received $3.8 million from George Soros group
Firms tied to the creators of the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier received $3.8 million from a George Soros-funded group in 2017, a probe has revealed.
According to IRS filings, The Democracy Integrity Project, a nonprofit that's funded by liberal billionaire Soros, gave millions of dollars to companies linked to Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele - the creator and author of the dossier, aka the Steele dossier, that led to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
A paper trail, unearthed by the Daily Caller's investigative team, shows the firms tied to Glenn Simpson's Fusion GPS and dossier author Steele were paid more than $3.8m in 2017 to provide research and analysis to “government entities.”
The payments made by Soros-backed TDIP equate to more than three times the amount the DNC and the Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS and Steele to investigate Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential election run.
The DNC and Clinton campaign's law firm, Perkins Coie, gave $1 million to Fusion GPS in 2016 at payment to investigate Trump.
In Turn, Fusion GPS paid former British spy Steele nearly $170,000 for a project that resulted in the infamous Steele dossier.
It recently emerged that Steele created the dossier using fake news stories he found online which he presented as evidence of Trump's "Russian ties."
Steele made the shameful confession during a deposition last year in a case involving Russian tech entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev.
When asked by the court why he used unverified information, he claimed he didn't understand at the time that the reports weren't genuine when he used them in the dossier.
According to the Daily Caller, Steele’s report, which alleged a “well-coordinated conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of the special counsel’s findings in the 22-month Russia probe.
Daniel J. Jones, a former staffer to California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, founded TDIP on Jan. 31, 2017, seemingly to resume Democrats’ investigation of Trump’s possible links to Russia.
Jones operated what he called a “shadow media organization helping the government” to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
He also told the FBI in March 2017 that he received funding from a group of between seven and 10 wealthy donors and that he planned to provide information to federal investigators, the press and lawmakers.
TDIP’s tax filing confirms some aspects of what has been reported about the group.
The group planned to work with a “network of experienced organizations and individuals” to "gather information on foreign actors’ efforts to interfere in democratic elections around the world,” according to TDIP’s 2017 form 990, which is listed in a database maintained by ProPublica.
TDIP also says it provides “original, credible, and fact-based information” to a variety of organizations, including “government entities.”
The 990 form lists five separate independent contractors, including four that provided “research consulting,” and one law firm, Zuckerman Spaeder.
The group paid $3.3 million to Bean LLC., the holding company that controls Fusion GPS.
So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) “last in his class” (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
Another $250,000 was paid to Walsingham Partners Ltd., a London-based firm owned by Steele and his partner, Christopher Burrows.
TDIP paid another London-based intelligence firm called Istok Associates Ltd. nearly $150,000, also for “research consulting.”
The company has released investigative reports looking into whether Russia helped fund the Brexit campaign.
Nearly $130,000 was paid to Edward Austin Ltd., a London-based intelligence consultancy operated by Edward Baumgartner, a Fusion GPS contractor.
Another $148,000 was paid to the law firm Zuckerman Spaeder, which has represented Fusion GPS in a variety of dossier-related legal matters.
The full extent of TDIP’s work remains a mystery, as do the identities of most of the organization’s donors.
Real Clear Investigations reported on March 20 that TDIP sends out daily newsletters with a roundup of news stories about the special counsel’s investigation and other Trump-related matters.
Jones has also taken credit for planting anti-Trump news stories.
Adam Waldman, an attorney with links to Christopher Steele, revealed text messages showing that Jones took credit for a Reuters news article that raised questions about Russian purchases of Trump properties in Florida.
“Our team helped with this,” Jones wrote Waldman on March 17, 2017, in a text message provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Report: Christopher Steele backed up his Democrat & Crooked Hillary paid for Fake & Unverified Dossier with information he got from “send in watchers” of low ratings CNN. This is the info that got us the Witch Hunt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
Waldman testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in November 2017 that Jones told him that Soros, the progressive billionaire financier, was one of TDIP’s backers.
That was confirmed in October when The New York Times reported that Soros donated at least $1 million to TDIP.
TheDCNF has since found that a California-based nonprofit called the Fund for a Better Future (FBF) contributed nearly $2.1 million to TDIP in 2017.
It is not clear who provided the donation to FBF as the group does not disclose its donors.
According to TDIP’s tax filings, Jones’ group received just over $7 million in contributions in 2017 and spent close to $5 million.
Of that, Jones received a salary of $381,263. Another $95,914 was spent on travel.
TDIP’s link to Istok Associates has not been previously reported.
One of TDIP’s founders and board members is Adam Kaufmann, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
In private practice, Kaufmann served as an attorney for Derwick Associates, a Venezuelan firm that has come under scrutiny for money laundering and embezzlement.
Derwick hired Fusion GPS in 2014.
Reporters and human rights activists have claimed that Kaufman and Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch pressured them to back off stories critical of Derwick.
Baumgartner, the Edward Austin Ltd. executive, has worked for years as a Fusion GPS contractor.
Glenn Simpson, another Fusion GPS co-founder, said in congressional testimony in 2017 that Baumgartner helped the firm with an investigation of London-based financier Bill Browder, who is the leading proponent of the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law opposed by the Kremlin.
After the Steele dossier was published by BuzzFeed in January 2017, Fusion GPS tapped Baumgartner to conduct a background investigation of Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman accused in the dossier of having been recruited as a Russian spy and of hacking DNC computer systems.
Gubarev vehemently denied the allegations and filed defamation lawsuits against BuzzFeed and Steele.
Spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier “is unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain.” Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel. He had far worse “stains” than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2019
Baumgartner’s report undercut the dossier’s claims about Gubarev.
He found that Gubarev’s peers did not believe that he was working for the Kremlin to hack Democrats.
TDIP has also been linked to a controversial technology company that has been implicated in a disinformation campaign that targeted a special election for an Alabama Senate seat in 2017.
TDIP partnered with the tech company New Knowledge on DisInfo 2018, a project that aimed to track social media disinformation during the 2018 midterms.
New Knowledge gained national attention in December after releasing a report in partnership with the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding Russian social media disinformation.
Days later, New Knowledge came under fire for using bots and fake social media personas in the Alabama special election.
Jones operates another nonprofit group that appears to focus on the same issues as TDIP.
On Jan. 29, 2018, Jones registered Advance Democracy Inc.
That group received a $500,000 contribution last year from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a donor-advised fund that masks its contributors.
Jones founded Advance Democracy four days after Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a letter seeking information from associates of Fusion GPS and Steele.
TDIP did not respond to a request for comment.