The Democratic National Committee's leaders are in the hot seat. A Tuesday report revealed that the party committee and the Clinton campaign had helped fund research that resulted in the infamous "Trump Dossier," a dubious document containing obscene and lurid accusations against last year's eventual winner for president.
"Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in the decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization," spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa said.
In contrast, Brian Fallon, who served as a spokesman on the Clinton campaign, which also funded the same research, has embraced and defended those efforts in the hours after the Washington Post broke the story (though he maintains he was not aware of the project until after the election).
But not the DNC. Rather than offering an immediate defense, the organization sought to distance its current leadership from the project. Reporters Maggie Haberman and Ken Vogel of the New York Times reacted to the Washington Post story by accusing all the Democrats invovled of lying to the press for the better part of a year.
"Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year," Haberman tweeted. Vogel added, "When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer [Marc Elias] pushed back vigorously, saying 'You (or your sources) are wrong.'" Elias also represented the DNC, according to the Washington Post.
By insisting on the "new leadership's" ignorance, the DNC has redirected questions back to its old leadership: Rep. Debbie Wassmerman Schultz, D-Fla., and Donna Brazile.
Though Fusion GPS's research had previously (at least reportedly) been funded by a still-unidentified Republican donor, in April of 2016, Fusion was retained by Elias' firm on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, both of which continued to fund the research until late October of last year. That means the DNC funded the project during the tenures of both Wasserman Schultz and Brazile, the latter having taken over in late July of 2016 after Wasserman Schultz resigned.
Reports have indicated Democrats picked up and started funding the Fusion research around the time Trump secured the GOP nomination, after the GOP funder lost interest. "When the Republican donor stopped paying for the research, Elias, acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, agreed to pay for the work to continue."
"The Democrats paid for research, including by Fusion GPS, because of concerns that little was known about Trump and his business interests, according to the people familiar with the matter," the Post reported. Dossier author Christopher Steele was not hired until after Fusion was retained by Elias on behalf of Clinton's campaign and the DNC, though sources insisted to the Post that neither the campaign nor the DNC directed "Steele's activities" at any point.
As far as the DNC's involvement in funding Fusion's contentious research goes, expect Wasserman Schultz and Brazile to face questions about what they knew in the days ahead.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.