Ex-British spy paid $168,000 for Trump dossier, U.S. firm discloses

FILE PHOTO - People stand outside the building housing the offices of Orbis Buiness Intelligence (C) where former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele works, in central London, Britain, January 12, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Washington research firm paid a former British spy’s company $168,000 for work on a dossier outlining Russian financial and personal links to Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, the U.S. firm said in a statement on Wednesday.

Although it was public knowledge that Fusion GPS paid for the work, the amount had not been disclosed. Fusion GPS hired former MI6 officer Christopher Steele to collect information about Trump and his advisers.

Fusion GPS’ statement said it had told Congress about how $168,000 was paid last year to Orbis Business Intelligence, Steele’s company.

The money paid to Orbis was taken from $1.02 million it received in fees and expenses from the Perkins Coie law firm, the statement said. The law firm represented the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, although initial research by Fusion into Trump and other Republican primary candidates was commissioned by a conservative website.

Steele’s reports are central to investigations by a special counsel and congressional committees into U.S. intelligence agency allegations that Russia tried to help Trump’s campaign. Russia had repeatedly denied the allegations. Trump denies any collusion with Moscow officials, calling the probes a witch hunt.

In an Oct. 29 message posted on Twitter, President Trump said the dossier had cost as much as $12 million, without providing evidence.

“Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),....” Trump tweeted.

Sources familiar with Steele’s work said he began working for Fusion GPS in May 2016 and stopped with the election. Earlier, a Washington-based conservative website backed by a wealthy Republican donor, the Washington Free Beacon, hired Fusion to conduct research on Trump and other Republican candidates.

(This version of the story was corrected to say $1.02 million instead of $1.2 million in paragraph 4)

Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by John Walcott and Grant McCool