Perkins Coie partner and go-to Democratic Party lawyer Marc Elias found his behind-the-scenes political maneuvering in the news again this week, after a report said that he hired a research firm that compiled an unverified dossier on connections between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.
The Washington Post broke the story Tuesday that Elias retained research firm Fusion GPS, which was behind the Trump dossier, while working for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Written by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, the dossier contained allegations of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Fusion GPS reportedly gave Steele’s report and other research documents to Elias.
According to a letter released Tuesday, Perkins Coie retained Fusion GPS in April 2016 on behalf of Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, and the firm continued to fund Fusion’s research until just before the November election.
The letter implied that the firm’s clients were only recently informed of the engagement with Fusion. Before then, Fusion’s research had been funded by an unknown Republican client during the presidential primary, the Post reported.
The Steele dossier, which Buzzfeed published in full earlier this year, reportedly circulated among elected officials, members of the intelligence community and journalists. But the veracity of the numerous allegations are unclear.
Elias’ bare-knuckled representations of the Clinton campaign and the DNC have drawn attention before. When WikiLeaks posted a trove hacked DNC emails last year, they included several exchanges involving Elias about DNC strategy. In one email, Elias had urged the DNC to attack Bernie Sanders after Sanders expressed concerns over a joint fundraising effort involving the DNC and Clinton’s campaign. Perkins Coie’s dual representation of the DNC and Clinton also attracted some scrutiny.
Separately, Elias, who chairs Perkins Coie’s prominent political law group, has also been working with Facebook and Google as lawmakers seek to regulate the political advertisements that run on those sites. He previously helped the two companies request exemptions from federal disclosure rules for advertisements, under the argument that Facebook and Google ads are too small for the disclosures.
According to The New York Times, he has continued to represent the two companies amid revelations that political ads on those platforms were linked to Russian interests.
Elias did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday. Neither did a spokeswoman for Perkins Coie.