Marc Elias, the general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and a top Democratic lawyer who has also worked with other top Democratic politicians for years, is accused of helping orchestrate funding from the campaign to the research firm Fusion GPS that helped pay for the infamous anti-Trump dossier. The dossier launched unverified and salacious allegations about the president into the public debate, ranging from Russian collusion to so-called “golden showers.”
The bombshell claims came from anonymous sources speaking to The Washington Post. In the exclusive report, The Washington Post is reporting that the Hillary Clinton campaign – through its lawyer Elias – and the Democratic National Committee allegedly “helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier” against Trump. Trump has denied the allegations, and the firm behind the dossier, Fusion GPS, has steadfastly refused to release details of its funding sources.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Post Alleges That Marc Elias Was the Go Between Connecting the Campaign to Fusion GPS & the Dossier
Citing anonymous people familiar with the situation, The Post exclusive reported that “Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research. After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to the people. Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the firm in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC.”
However, the Post added that one source said that Clinton’s campaign and the DNC may not have been aware of the Fusion GPS role although the newspaper alleges that Elias received the Steele report. The newspaper added, “At no point, these people said, did the Clinton campaign or the DNC direct Steele’s activities. They described him as a Fusion GPS subcontractor.” After the report broke, Marc Elias retweeted this post on Twitter that shared a Wall Street Journal story with the headline, “Former Trump campaign manager Manafort under investigation by Manhattan U.S. attorney for possible money laundering”:
The dossier contained a listing of unverified, almost unspeakable allegations about President Donald Trump, and it emerged in news reports on January 10, 2017, just 10 days before Trump was inaugurated as president. The company’s efforts were funded first by a Republican and, once Steele came on board and the primary was over, Democrats – the Post now alleges Clinton’s own campaign and the DNC.
2. Marc Elias Was General Counsel to Hillary for America, Clinton’s Presidential Campaign
Elias held a prominent position in both the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Freebeacon describes the Washington D.C. lawyer by saying, “When Democratic campaigns across the country have major problems, their go-to fixer is super-lawyer Marc Elias.” He works for a firm founded by a close adviser to Barack Obama, the site reports.
According to a biography of Marc Elias posted by the Perkins Coie law firm where he works, “Elias is the chair of Perkins Coie’s Political Law practice. His practice focuses on representing public officials, candidates, parties, corporations, tax-exempt organizations and Political Action Committees (PACs) in connection with campaign finance, governmental ethics, lobbying disclosure and white-collar criminal defense matters. His clients include numerous FORTUNE 500 corporations, national nonprofit organizations, lobbying firms, Am Law 100 law firms, prominent individuals, candidates and campaigns.”
The bio confirms Elias’ role in both the Hillary Clinton and Kerry campaigns, as well as the DNC and other prominent Democratic political organizations. “Marc is currently general counsel to Hillary for America, the presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton. He served in the same role for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Marc’s clients include the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Governors Associations and U.S. senators, governors, representatives and their campaigns.”
It further describes him as a “nationally recognized authority in the Federal Election Campaign Act, Lobbying Disclosure Act, Ethics in Government Act and Foreign Agents Registration Act,” and “a preeminent counselor in the areas of congressional and executive branch ethics and gift rules, and federal and state pay-to-play laws and rules.” According to the law firm biography, Elias “also advises and litigates claims under the Voting Rights Act, Help America Vote Act and National Voter Registration Act. Marc has litigated voting and campaign finance cases throughout the country in federal and state court. He has been involved in voting rights and/or redistricting litigation in a number of states, including Texas, Florida, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada and Minnesota.”
3. Elias ‘Vigorously’ Denied Involvement in the Anti Trump Dossier, a New York Times Reporter Says
Elias “vigorously” denied his involvement in the anti-Trump dossier that sparked a slew of Trump/Russia claims, New York Times reporter Ken Vogel said on Twitter. Commenting on the Washington Post exclusive, Vogel wrote: “When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.'” Maggie Haberman, of the New York Times, shared the Post bombshell story and wrote on Twitter, “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.”
The Fusion GPS firm’s involvement in the infamous “dossier” of unverified and scandalous Trump allegations peddled by a British spy was previously revealed, but its funding sources were not. The larger-than-life characters associated with the dossier included Steele, its purported author, who is a former British intelligence author who was based in Russia in the 1990s. The dossier alleged, without offering concrete evidence, that Russian officials have blackmail on Trump, and that his campaign staff maintained close ties with Russian connections during the election.
According to The New York Times, Anita Dunn, “a veteran Democratic operative working with Perkins Coie, said…Elias ‘was certainly familiar with some of, but not all, of the information’ in the dossier. But, she said ‘he didn’t have and hadn’t seen the full document, nor was he involved in pitching it to reporters.’”
A spokesman for the president’s legal team also previously accused the firm of being associated with the Russian lawyer who held a controversial meeting with Donald Trump Jr. The lawyer implied that Trump Jr. was set up, although Fusion GPS says it didn’t know about the meeting. The president’s son says he thought the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was going to provide the Trump campaign with information damaging to Hillary Clinton, but instead she focused on the Magnitsky Act, which slaps Russians with sanctions for human rights abuse and deals with Russian adoption issues. A top GOP senator previously accused Fusion GPS of operating as an unregistered agent for Russia, which the firm has denied.
4. Elias Has Been Involved in Voting Rights Efforts & Election Lawsuits
According to his law firm bio, Elias has also played a role in election integrity issues. On Twitter, Elias describes himself as “a lawyer fighting to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, and protecting voting rights for all.” He has been involved in elections-related lawsuits, such as one intervening in a Nevada state recall.
“Following the 2014 elections, Marc was appointed by DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz as a member of the Victory Task Force to review key components of the role of the Democratic Party–and related organizations—in recent elections and identify places where the party can strengthen and improve operations in future elections,” the bio recounts. “Marc served as lead counsel for Senator Al Franken in the 2008 Minnesota Senate election recount and contest—the largest recount and contest in American history. He successfully argued the case before the Minnesota State Supreme Court, which resulted in a unanimous decision affirming that Franken had received the highest number of votes legally cast in the 2008 general election for U.S. Senator.”
He has also worked on state races from Virginia to Minnesota. “In 2013, Marc successfully represented Attorney General Mark Herring in the Virginia Attorney General’s recount. In 2010, he successfully represented Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in the governor’s recount, including a successful argument in the state supreme court,” the bio says.
Marc represented Senator Maria Cantwell in connection with her 2000 recount, Senator Harry Reid in connection with his 1998 recount, and served as a consultant to the Senate Rules Committee during its consideration of the 1996 Louisiana Senate election contest,” the bio says, adding, “Marc has represented numerous clients in public corruption and campaign finance matters before the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Offices of Independent Counsel. He has also represented clients before committees of both the House and Senate, as well as before federal agencies.”
5. Elias Teaches Political Science & Has Been Lauded as a Top Lawyer
Elias’ law firm biography lists a series of accolades. “Named by Politico Magazine as one of the ’50 Politicos to Watch,’ he is frequently quoted in political law matters by the national media and has spoken and written extensively about both politics and political law,” notes the bio.
“Marc has taught both law and political science, including ‘Post Election Litigation and Advanced Election Law’ at William & Mary Law School and ‘Modern Campaigns and Elections’ at Hamilton College. He is also the former co-chair of the bipartisan Committee to Modernize Voter Registration. Marc serves on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law as well as an adviser to two American Law Institute projects: Principles of Government Ethics and Principles of Election Law: Resolution of Election Disputes,” it adds.