Billionaire-Backed Operative Kept Funding Steele, Fusion GPS in 2019, Even After Dossier’s Credibility Crumbled
A former staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) continued to pay large sums of money in 2019 to former British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS, the firm that retained Steele for work on a Hillary Clinton-funded misinformation dossier, even as the credibility of both Steele and the claims in his dossier evaporated.
The Democracy Integrity Project (TDIP), a nonprofit operated by former Feinstein staffer Daniel Jones, paid $1,222,714 in 2019 to Bean LLC., the shell company that controls Fusion GPS, and $700,000 to Walsingham Partners Ltd., a British company co-owned by Steele, according to a tax filing.
Jones continued to fund the firms despite revelations in 2018 and 2019 that severely undermined the credibility of the dossier and its author. The dossier, compiled in 2016, contained bombastic allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia—none of which remain proven to this day, and some of which have been outright debunked.
In mid- to late-2019, the Department of Justice began to turn the tables on the operatives involved with the dossier, expanding its investigation of spying on the Trump campaign to include foreign intelligence agencies and later converting the inquiry into a criminal probe.
As the year progressed, evidence mounted to suggest that the dossier was part of a disinformation campaign, rather than a conventional, evidence-based opposition research document. In December 2019, The New York Times exposed another Jones-funded group, New Knowledge, for its involvement in a self-proclaimed “false flag” operation to influence the 2017 U.S. Senate election in Alabama by sowing discord among Republicans.
The New Knowledge revelations were particularly notable because the Senate Intelligence Committee had weeks earlier identified it as one of the firms it retained to peruse the data it had obtained from social media companies concerning Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
Despite its hard-hitting report on New Knowledge, The NY Times itself fell for a Jones disinformation operation earlier this year, publishing an article about The Epoch Times sourced solely to Advance Democracy Inc., another U.S. nonprofit operated by Jones that had also funded New Knowledge in 2018 and 2019. Jones used two of his nonprofits to pay New Knowledge $665,000 in those years, according to tax filings. The legal name for New Knowledge is Popily Inc. The company has since rebranded itself as Yonder.
In 2017 and 2018, Jones used his two nonprofits to funnel more than $5.3 million to Fusion GPS and almost $1 million to Steele. He told the FBI in March 2017 that billionaire financier George Soros and a group of 7 to 10 Silicon Valley billionaires funded his Trump–Russia operation to the tune of $50 million. He offered to give his findings to the bureau and “planned to share the information he obtained with policymakers … and with the press.”
The project received $2 million from the Fund for a Better Future and $500,000 from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Neither group discloses the identities of its donors. Investigative reporter Chuck Ross was the first to bring the connections to light.
As 2019 drew to an end, the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General released its seminal report on the four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications that the FBI used to obtain warrants to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The inspector general found that the Steele dossier played a crucial role in the FBI’s decision to seek the first FISA warrant, despite a lack of verification and awareness of the dossier’s political origins.
The Epoch Times didn’t receive an immediate response to a request for comment sent to the email address listed on the Advance Democracy Inc. website.