Another shoe dropped late this afternoon in the Russia probe.

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.

Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community.

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the firm in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Prior to that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC through the law firm continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.

This is a marked contrast from the previous narrative that has been circulated by the media, this New York Times story, How a Sensational, Unverified Dossier Became a Crisis for Donald Trump, is a good example of how it is usually described.

The story began in September 2015, when a wealthy Republican donor who strongly opposed Mr. Trump put up the money to hire a Washington research firm run by former journalists, Fusion GPS, to compile a dossier about the real estate magnate’s past scandals and weaknesses, according to a person familiar with the effort. The person described the opposition research work on condition of anonymity, citing the volatile nature of the story and the likelihood of future legal disputes. The identity of the donor is unclear.

After Mr. Trump emerged as the presumptive nominee in the spring, the Republican interest in financing the effort ended. But Democratic supporters of Hillary Clinton were very interested, and Fusion GPS kept doing the same deep dives, but on behalf of new clients.

We don’t know why this information suddenly popped out, the Post doesn’t source it beyond “people familiar with the matter,” which I take to mean someone high in the Clinton campaign like John Podesta, but if you were betting you’d have to say that it is related to the subpoena the House Intelligence Committee has issued for the financial records of Fusion GPS in order to determine who was paying for the dossier. Fusion GPS is contesting the subpoena but most legal observers think their crap is really weak. This looks like they are trying to get in front of the story before the information is released by Devin Nunes.

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This, by CNN douchenozzle, Chris Ciliizza has not aged all that well:

The point here is that it is deeply irresponsible for a president of the United States to even flirt with this sort of conspiracy talk. You can love Donald Trump and still believe that the idea that the Russians, the Democrats and the FBI co-funded a dossier designed to discredit Trump’s 2016 campaign is totally bonkers.

To say this creates a lot of questions is an understatement.

1. We know the FBI used the Fusion GPS dossier as evidence to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page.

2. We know a Paul Manafort had been under FISA surveillance before he joined the campaign and that warrant lapsed in late summer. But we also know that the dossier was used to get another FISA warrant on Manafort shortly after Trump won the election.

3. Did the US Intelligence Community know who had paid for the dossier when they basically endorsed it as reliable?

The next obvious question is did the FBI know who was footing the bill for the dossier? If not, why not? And if they did, the ethics of using unverifiable oppo research generated by a political campaign on its opponent as evidence before the FISA court is simply breathtaking in its arrogance–and goes to show just how tame and toothless the FISA Court really is.

Recently, it has been reported that the author, Christopher Steele, may have given the dossier to British intelligence which, in turn, extracted key bits of information and provided them to the US intelligence community. These snippets were used by US intelligence to validate the dossier when they received it as they had been generated from a friendly intelligence service.

Other unknowns hanging out there: we still don’t know the FBI did not pay the dossier author for more research. Thus far they have refused to give a public answer to that question. Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe seems to be the point person in the management of the dossier and the potential follow-on assignment that may or may not have been given to the dossier’s author. McCabe’s wife received some $700,000 in campaign donations via the good offices of long time Clinton bagman Terry McAuliffe. McCAbe is currently under investigation for violating the Hatch Act for electioneering on behalf of his wife.

Right now we have a special counsel operating on a charter that is based of Democrat opposition research. We have at least two men who have been placed under surveillance based on nothing stronger than Democrat oppo. We have the FBI using, knowingly or unknowingly (you chose which is better for you), Democrat opposition research to obtain FISA warrants. None of this looks all that great. Viewed in its most favorable light one has to conclude there are more than a few idiots in the FBI and the Intelligence Community. And there is no reason to view it in its most favorable light.