WASHINGTON — A conservative publication said Friday that it paid a Washington research firm to start probing Donald Trump’s background – a move that set in motion a chain of events leading to an explosive dossier alleging ties between Trump associates and Russia.

In a statement, the Washington Free Beacon said it retained Fusion GPS to provide research on multiple Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election. Two people familiar with billionaire Republican donor Paul Singer said he provides funds to the publication.

But the Free Beacon said its research ended before Fusion GPS hired a former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, to produce reports alleging links between Russia and Trump associates.

“None of the work product that the Free Beacon received appears in the Steele dossier,” said the statement from Free Beacon editor in chief Mathew Continetti and chairman Michael Goldfarb.

The Free Beacon’s lawyers notified the House Intelligence Committee of its role in the matter Friday.

After the Free Beacon stopped paying Fusion GPS, the firm offered in April 2016 to continue researching Trump for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

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