Collins: Top Democrats need to come back before intelligence committee

Posted at 3:39 PM, Oct 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-29 15:39:10-04

Sen. Susan Collins said Sunday that the Senate intelligence committee should bring senior Democratic Party operatives back for testimony after revelations about the party paying intelligence firm Fusion GPS for opposition research on Donald Trump last year.

Some of that research became the dossier of allegations about the President and Russia.

In closed-door meetings with congressional Russia investigators in recent weeks, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz denied knowing who funded Fusion’s opposition research, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN last week.

“They absolutely need to be recalled,” the Maine Republican said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It’s difficult to imagine that a campaign chairman, that the head of the DNC would not know of an expenditure of this magnitude and significance, but perhaps there’s something more going on here.”

A source familiar with the matter told CNN on Tuesday that the law firm Perkins Coie, as part of its representation of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS and entered “into an engagement for research services that began in April 2016 and concluded before the election in early November.”

In her interview Sunday, Collins also said Perkins Coie attorney Marc Elias should be brought back to speak with the intelligence committee. Elias served as Podesta’s attorney and was with him during his interview with the committee, multiple sources told CNN. Elias was there in his capacity as Podesta’s attorney and not as a witness.

The Washington Post was first to report news of the Clinton campaign and the DNC’s involvement with Fusion GPS.

CNN has previously reported that Fusion’s research on Trump was first funded by Republican foes of Trump, and Democrats began paying the research firm later, after he became the presumptive nominee.

A conservative publication, the Washington Free Beacon announced late Friday it had earlier hired Fusion GPS to do research on Trump and other Republican candidates during the presidential primaries — but before the firm hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to do research that led to the dossier.

The dossier helped fuel the congressional and Justice Department investigations into Trump and Russia. CNN reported in February that investigators had been able to corroborate some information in the dossier, although not the most salacious allegations.