Hillary Clinton is in hot water again this week after a non-partisan election watchdog organization filed suit against her and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over not properly declaring expenditures. Those expenditures seem to be to fund a research firm, Fusion GPS, that helped compile the Steele Dossier. For many people on the right, this vindicates Donald Trump and the Russian connection. However, the lawsuit doesn’t dispute the claims made by the dossier.
What exactly happened
During the Republican primaries, a group of yet to be named Republican opponents of Donald Trump hired Fusion GPS to do “opposition research” on Donald Trump. Opposition research is the practice of finding out what your opponents weaknesses are or more simply, finding the dirt on your foe. Once Trump became the presumptive Republican Presidential candidate, the people funding the research at Fusion GPS stopped paying the bill.
Next: Here’s where the Clinton campaign and DNC steps in.
Clinton and the DNC’s involvement
A short time after the funding had dried up from the Republican sponsors, Fusion GPS found themselves sitting on a mountain of data collected on Trump. In any business, when you have an excess of product, you’re going to need to find a buyer. In March of 2016, Fusion GPS approached Perkins Coie, a law firm that represents both Hillary Clinton and the DNC, about continuing research that they have been conducting on Donald Trump and his campaign. As anybody in their right mind would do, they retained their services for the remainder of the campaign until the election in November 2016.
Next: There wasn’t anything illegal done up until that point.
Opposition research is very common
In any campaign in any district across the world, it is very commonplace to hire a research firm or even just a private investigator to find dirt on a candidates opponent. Every election cycle, any citizen will be subject to a slew of “attack ads” on TV, the internet, and in print. The information in those attack ads comes from research firms like Fusion GPS. So the Clinton campaign and the DNC didn’t technically do anything wrong when they hired Fusion GPS to conduct their research.
Next: Here is why opposition reports are usually seen as a smoking gun for corruption and scandal.
Opposition reports are nefarious in nature
The nature of gathering information in these opposition reports is extremely shady. It often requires hazy funding methods and very dubious work done by the hired investigators. It’s actually rather commonplace for these reports to come under federal investigation because of there nature. Gather anonymous sources with questionable funding sources together in a place and it’s easy to see conspiracy and nefarious behavior being a factor.
Really it’s just a way to gather information without risking the identities of these research firms sources or clients. Mathew Gehringer of Perkins Coie stated in an email that Fusion GPS is “currently in litigation with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an effort to prevent the compelled disclosure of its bank records which would reveal confidential client information.”
Next: Where they went wrong and why they are now being sued.
What the lawsuit means
The Clinton campaign and the DNC didn’t do anything wrong by hiring this firm to finish the research. After all, it was research initiated by Republican party members in the first place. What they did do wrong is violate campaign finance rules and regulations. Every campaign is required to file their expenses and what they are for. Both The DNC and the Clinton campaign filed those expenses but didn’t properly disclose why they were paying Perkins Coie money that was being earmarked for Fusion GPS. The money that was being earmarked eventually led to the payment for the Steele Dossier which asserts that Russia interfered with our presidential election.
Next: How is the GOP taking the news of this lawsuit?
Trump and the right feel vindicated
Trump believes that he was a “victim” in the report and called it “fake news”. Fox news tweeted out, “Clinton campaign & DNC paid for research that led to the anti-Trump Fake News Dossier. The victim here is the President.” The discovery of the Clinton campaign and the DNC paying for the Steele Dossier has made them think that the report is now null and void. However, that’s not the case at all.
Next: What does this mean for the Russia investigation?
The Russia investigation will move forward
As we said earlier, the trouble that the Clinton campaign and the DNC are in has to do with how they reported their finances. It has nothing to do with the validity of the claims made in the Steele Dossier. What will come of either of those two, is still up in the air.
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