DNC Parts Ways With Marc Elias, the Clinton Campaign Lawyer Behind Steele Dossier

DNC Parts Ways With Marc Elias, the Clinton Campaign Lawyer Behind Steele Dossier
The headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in Washington on Aug. 22, 2018, after reports indicated that the DNC notified the FBI of an attempt by hackers to infiltrate the organization's voter database. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Pan

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is ending its longtime partnership with lawyer and election strategist Marc Elias, who paid for the notorious dossier falsely accusing the Donald Trump presidential campaign of colluding with Russia.

The divorce between the national organization of Democrats and its top lawyer over “a number of strategic disagreements” was first reported by Punchbowl News, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter. This appears to only affect the DNC, considering that Elias still represents a slew of federal- and state-level Democratic campaign arms, such as the DSCC, DAGA, and DLCC.

“The DNC works with a number of law firms on voting rights litigation, compliance, contracting and more. The DNC is appreciative of Elias Law Group’s years of work in service of the values we share,” a DNC spokesperson said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Elias’s firm, the Elias Law Group, also lauded the New York lawyer’s previous work for the DNC, noting that he will continue providing services to Democrat clients.

“Elias Law Group is proud of the work it has done for the DNC. We look forward to continuing to represent the Democratic Party as well as helping citizens vote, and progressives make change,” the statement read.

Elias is best known as the man behind the Steele dossier. Serving as general counsel for the Hilary Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election, Elias hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS to commission a dossier on Republican candidate Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russian government operatives. Fusion GPS entrusted the task to retired British spy Christopher Steele, who eventually fed the dossier to the FBI in 2017.

The dossier and its core allegations now have either been debunked or deemed unverifiable, but were key to the FBI’s investigation of Trump, as well as the mainstream media’s narrative about Moscow meddling with the 2016 election. The role Democrats played in the dossier wasn’t exposed until much later in 2017, amid a House Republican-led probe into the document’s origin.

In the latest aftermath of the scandal, the Federal Election Commission in March 2022 ordered the DNC and Clinton campaign to pay a $113,000 fine for improper finance disclosure. According to the federal agency, the DNC and Clinton campaign together paid Fusion GPS more than $1 million to fund the dossier project, but labeled the payments as “legal expenses” instead of opposition research.

The DNC and Clinton campaign agreed to pay $105,000 and $8,000 in fines, respectively, but admitted no wrongdoing. No fine was issued against Marc Elias, Fusion GPS, or Christopher Steele.

Elias was also involved in some controversies in more recent election cycles. On last year’s Election Day, he joined the John Fetterman campaign’s lawsuit in a last-minute attempt to overturn a Pennsylvania election law rejecting undated or misdated mail-in ballots.

In 2021, he tried to convince Democrat majorities in Congress to invalidate Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ victory in Iowa, claiming to have found extra ballots for his client, Democrat Rita Hart. Congress eventually certified the election results in favor of Miller-Meeks.

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