Politico is now reporting that the Republican National Committee paid a shadowy firm it contracted with to gather damaging information on 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The RNC paid $41,500 to Hamilton Trading Group (HTG), a Virginia-based private company run by former CIA operatives. Hamilton then subcontracted with a Russian spy in a hunt for any information that would show conflicts of interest between Clinton while Secretary of State and her role at the Clinton Foundation. The RNC also later attempted to keep the payments a secret.
As the Politico report notes:
“RNC officials and the president and co-founder of Hamilton Trading Group, an ex-CIA officer named Ben Wickham, insisted the payments, which eventually totaled $41,500, had nothing to do with Russia.
“But RNC officials now acknowledge that most of the cash — $34,100 — went towards intelligence-style reports that sought to prove conflicts of interest between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State and her family’s foundation.”
What Did Hamilton Trading Find?
HTG produced two dossiers, and both of them attempted to make a case that Clinton had urged U.S. interventions in Bulgaria and Israel on behalf of energy firms that gave donations to the Clinton Foundation.
HTG Acknowledges the Contract
The aforementioned Ben Wickham was asked to comment on the matter by Poltico, and initially said any work his firm did for the RNC was covered by a non-disclosure agreement. But he added:
“I’m not denying that I wasn’t totally forthcoming, but I’m telling you why. The security stuff that we did, which is legitimate, was not covered by any kind of a confidentiality agreement, so I can discuss that.”
With both the FBI and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees now involved in determining what connections there may have been between Russia and the Trump campaign, the disclosure of this information showing the RNC paying a firm with deep ties to Russia adds another layer of intrigue.
A myriad of questions remain unanswered by the Trump administration, the RNC, and other officials who were involved in the 2016 campaign. Among them:
- Do the Russians have embarrassing or financial damaging information and investments in Trump and his business interests?
- Who was the key go-between for the contacts with Russian officials?
- How deeply involved is Trump himself? Did he initiate the back channel to Russia in exchange for help with the election?
- What did the Russians want in return for their assistance?
In time we may get the answers we seek. But at the moment, everywhere you look all evidence seems to point in two clearly defined directions: To the Kremlin and the White House.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org