Republicans spent months calling Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary,” but information is coming out on an almost daily basis that suggests they were the crooked ones all along.
On Thursday, POLITICO released a report about some surprising payments that were made by the Republican National Committee to Hamilton Trading Group, a “low profile” intelligence firm that was started by retired CIA officers.
The payments, which totaled $41,500, apparently drew attention initially because of the small, relatively unknown firm’s Russian expertise. However, upon further investigation, it was discovered that a significant portion of the total payment — $34,100 — was paid by the RNC for “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.”
Two dossiers were put together by the firm that attempted to argue that Clinton had intervened in Bulgaria and Israel since energy companies from those countries had donated to the Clinton Foundation.
It seems that Hamilton Trading Group’s investigations into Clinton proved to be fruitless, but the group is now being scrutinized for not initially disclosing the nature of the work they were doing for the RNC.
Originally, RNC officials and the group’s co-founder, Ben Wickham, had claimed that the payments to Hamilton Trading Group were for an assessment of building security concerns at the RNC’s headquarters on Capitol Hill.
Speaking to POLITICO, Wickham said that he only disclosed the information about the building security assessment because “any other work we may have done for [the RNC]” was subject to a non-disclosure agreement.” Wickham 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.’
At a time when connections between the GOP and Russia are being revealed left and right, POLITICO couldn’t help but dig deeper into Hamilton Trading Group’s own Russia ties.
The firm has reportedly has intelligence connections in Russia who have been known to “perform background checks and provide security services for American officials and companies.”
Despite having Russian contacts, Wickham insisted that the firm did not do any Russia-related work for the RNC. He also said that it was just a coincidence that the payments were made around the same time that news was first dropping of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and added that he had “never had any contact with … Trump or Manafort or their people.”
Perhaps in an attempt to prove that Hamilton Trading Group did more than try to implicate Hillary Clinton, Wickham also went on to explain that the firm really did perform a “security audit” on the RNC headquarters. He said that the firm “didn’t find anything too problematic,” but the RNC did make changes to address security concerns.
It’s unclear at this time how significant of a role Hamilton Trading Group will play in the investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia; however, the fact that the group was hired by the RNC to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton speaks volumes about what the GOP was really doing while they were trying to distract that American people with chants of “Lock her up!”
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.