Christopher Steele gave copies of his discredited dirty dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump to a Republican congressman, the chief of staff to House Speaker Paul Ryan, and a longtime associate of John McCain in December 2016, well before BuzzFeed published the infamous report, according to court documents released Wednesday.
David Kramer, a former State Department official who was an executive at the McCain Institute, is the person who provided a copy of the dossier to BuzzFeed News. He met with BuzzFeed reporter Ken Bensinger on December 29, 2016, according to the court filing submitted by U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro in the BuzzFeed dossier-related defamation lawsuit.
BuzzFeed and Kramer disagree about how Bensinger obtained a copy of the dossier, according to a footnote in Ungaro’s court filing.
“The parties dispute whether Kramer gave Bensinger a copy or whether Bensinger took photos of the Dossier when Kramer was not looking,” the judge wrote.
“Kramer testified that Bensinger took photos of the Dossier when Kramer was out of the room, even though he asked Bensinger not to,” Ungaro continued, adding that “in a later declaration, Kramer stated that he had no objection to Bensinger taking a hard copy and had provided hard copies to other journalists.”
The other journalists Kramer provided copies of the dossier to were not identified.
Ungaro also stated that Christopher Steele provided at least one memo from the dossier to Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and longtime Paul Ryan aide Jonathan Burks.
“Steele gave Report 166 to Kramer, an unnamed senior British security official, Ms. Wallender [sic] at the NSC, Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Chief of Staff, John Burks,” Ungaro wrote.
The judge in the BuzzFeed case stated in a memo that Christopher Steele gave memos to Paul Ryan chief of staff John Burks and Rep. Adam Kinzinger. Though Ryan's spokeswoman tells me that Burks hasn't met Steele and did not receive dossier materials directly from Steele. pic.twitter.com/qKSQ3skIR6
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) December 20, 2018
That report, which is one of 17 written by Steele, accused Russian businessman Aleksej Gubarev of using his companies to hack Democrats’ computer systems during the 2016 campaign. Gubarev vehemently denied the allegations and sued BuzzFeed for defamation, claiming that the website failed to investigate Steele’s claims.
Ungaro noted in her filing Wednesday that BuzzFeed did not reach out to Gubarev prior to its publication of the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017. The website apologized to Gubarev and redacted his name from its report after the Russian sued.
Ungaro ultimately ruled in favor of BuzzFeed on the grounds that its decision to publish the dossier was protected by the fair report privilege.
Steele also apparently supplied copies of his dossier to Celeste Wallander, the Obama National Security Council’s top official on Russia-related matters.
Though Ungaro wrote that Steele provided Burks and the others with parts of the dossier, a spokeswoman for Ryan’s office said that Burks never met Steele and did not receive information directly from the former British spy.
“Burks has never met Christopher Steele nor received any document directly from him. However, he was aware of and had read the dossier prior to its publication,” AshLee Strong told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
She did not respond to follow-up questions about how Burks obtained the report, whether he disseminated it, and whether Ryan knew he had received the document.
Inquiring minds would like to know exactly when Burks got the Steele dossier and what he did with it. And did he tell Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee or any other committees about it?
Kinzinger’s office did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.