Lawyers for the conservative publication Washington Free Beacon informed the House Intelligence Committee Friday that the organization was the original funder for the anti-Trump opposition research project with Fusion GPS.
The Free Beacon funded the project from the fall of 2015 through the spring of 2016, whereupon it withdrew funding and the project was picked up by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Update: Washington Free Beacon responds
The original arrangement between the Free Beacon and Fusion GPS involved opposition research into multiple Republican candidates, not just front-runner Donald Trump.
Sources close to the Free Beacon stress that the project, when the Free Beacon funded it, had nothing to do with Russia and did not involve Christopher Steele, the former British spy who gathered anti-Trump dirt in Russia. Steele was retained by Fusion GPS when the project was funded by Democrats, and not in its initial phase, when the Free Beacon was involved.
The Free Beacon was founded in 2012. Its founders included Michael Goldfarb, who has moved back and forth between conservative journalism, politics, and activism. The Free Beacon was originally part of a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization called the Center for American Freedom, but in 2014 became a for-profit organization. It has never revealed its ownership.
Conservative billionaire Paul Singer, a major funder of the Free Beacon, strongly opposed Trump at the time of the opposition research project.
The Center for American Freedom's original board of directors included William Kristol, the former editor of the Weekly Standard, a sister publication of the Washington Examiner and where both Goldfarb and Free Beacon editor Matthew Continetti worked. Kristol is one of the nation's most prominent "Never Trump" activists and during the Republican primary campaign worked to recruit a candidate to challenge Trump for the GOP nomination.