In the aftermath of BuzzFeed’s release of the now-infamous “Trump Dossier,” much time has been spent speculating exactly who paid for dirt on the Trump administration and who had the opportunity to take a sneak peak at the findings before the report was passed off to the FBI. Media reports have suggested that the “opposition research” was ordered by one of Trump’s presidential primary competitors though that detail has never been officially confirmed.
That said, a name that continues to pop up every time the dossier is mentioned is that of Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a rather outspoken and unapologetic critic of President Trump.
As a recap, for those who have manged to avoid the head trauma of this particular narrative, the dossier in question was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and his London firm, Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd. The intelligence produced amounted to a collection of uncorroborated reports gathered by Steele primarily from intelligence contacts he developed while working undercover in Moscow. Provocative details relating to Trump, hookers and ‘golden showers’ in Russian hotel rooms proved explosive when they were published by BuzzFeed on January 10th, but were quickly debunked as nothing more than ‘fake news.’
But now, courtesy of a lawsuit filed by Aleksej Gubarev in the U.K., additional details are emerging which raise new questions about McCain’s links to the dossier. As McClatchy notes today, according to a new court document filed in the British lawsuit, the counsel for Chris Steele repeatedly points to Senator McCain and a former State Department official as two of just a handful of people known to have had copies of the full document before it circulated among journalists and was ultimately published by BuzzFeed.
It’s unclear exactly when McCain got his first look at the dossier and his staff has refused to provide additional comment beyond a statement released back in January. As a result, all we know for sure is that Steele finished his opposition research in October and Comey testified that he didn’t get a copy of the dossier until January 6th. Precisely who saw what and when during that interim period still remains a mystery.
A McCain spokesperson declined to comment Monday on the new court document, pointing instead to a Jan. 11 statement from the veteran senator about the dossier. “Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the director of the FBI,” McCain had said then. “That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue.”
In recent congressional testimony, ex-FBI Director James Comey, fired by Trump amid a widening probe, acknowledged receiving the dossier from McCain on Jan. 6. Kramer, a former State Department official who until recently served as a senior director at Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership, declined comment.
Two defamation lawsuits — one in the United States and a second in the U.K. — have been brought by lawyers for Aleksej Gubarev, a Cyprus-based Internet entrepreneur whom Steele’s Russian sources accused of cyber spying against the Democratic Party leadership.
The dossier, without substantiation, said Gubarev’s U.S.-based global web-hosting companies, XBT and Webzilla, planted digital bugs, transmitted viruses and conducted altering operations against the Democratic Party leadership.
While one key name in the dossier was blackened out by BuzzFeed, Gubarev’s was not. He alleges that he was never contacted for comment, suffering reputational harm in the process.
In the court document, Steele’s barrister, Nicola Cain, argued that the portion of the dossier dealing with Gubarev, which came in weeks after Trump’s election and after Steele was no longer paid by his client for research, amounted to raw intelligence and was advertised as such. She did not return a call or email requests for comment.
Of course, with discovery still ongoing in both lawsuits, we suspect additional details on this narrative will continue to leak out slowly over time despite the best efforts of the mainstream media to conceal the fact that opposition research was being gathered, not just on the Clinton campaign, but on Trump as well.
The full filing can be viewed here: