Last summer as the general election campaign was heating up, the Republican National Committee hired a Virginia firm to find dirt that would prove Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had exploited conflicts of interest when she was Secretary of State because of her ties to the Clinton Foundation.
The RNC then lied about what the firm was doing in a filing with the Federal Election Commission and when questioned by intelligence sources, according to Politico.
The RNC initially claimed that it hired the Hamilton Trading Group to consult on security at its headquarters. Hamilton, a low profile consultant which worked with American companies in Russia, did a small amount of security work, but most of the $41,500 in payments was for investigative reports that attempted to prove Clinton’s conflicts of interest.
This occurred around the same time that the Russian hacking campaign and interference in the election was first becoming recognized as a problem. The Hamilton firm was formed by former CIA officers, including Ben Wickham, and has worked closely with a former Russian Cold War spy, Gennady Vasilenko.
The filing raised a red flag at the Federal Election Commission and among intelligence sources due to Hamilton’s ties to Russia, The RNC denied that their project had anything to do with Russia, saying it was just a security audit. Hamilton’s executives also denied it was related to their work in Russia. They were all lying.
It also was flagged because Hamilton had never before done work for a political committee. It is known for providing security services and doing background checks for American companies doing business in Russia.
Now the RNC and Hamilton have admitted that they were not forthcoming about the real nature of the relationship. RNC officials now acknowledge $34,000 of the payments was for reports that would attempt to show Clinton had a conflict of interest while Secretary of State.
“I’m not denying that I wasn’t totally forthcoming, but I’m telling you why,” Wickham told Politico. “The security stuff that we did, which is legitimate, was not covered by any kind of a confidentiality agreement, so I can discuss that.”
The reports Hamilton produced were the kind a government intelligence agency would do. The firm produced dossiers that attempted to show Clinton acted on behalf of two energy companies to do deals in Bulgaria and Israel, after they donated to the Clinton Foundation, according to sources who spoke to Politico.
The Republican National Committee was run at the time by Reince Priebus, who is now Trump’s Chief of Staff and one of his closest advisors. This revelation shows Priebus and the RNC were willing to lie about what they were doing to dig up dirt on an opponent to help Trump become President.
It was one of many lies now associated with the Trump campaign. Whether there really was a connection to Russia in what Hamilton did is still to be investigated.