David Kramer, the then-Sen. John McCain aide who leaked the discredited Christopher Steele dossier on President Trump, testified in a libel case that he spread the unsubstantiated anti-Trump material all over Washington during the presidential transition.
The Washington Times reports,
Mr. Steele, a former British spy, testified in the same case that he relied on an internet gossip page to try to verify one of his key charges.
Mr. Kramer, a former State Department official and a Trump detractor, leaked the Democrat-financed dossier material to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt, CNN’s Carl Bernstein, National Public Radio, McClatchy news service and others, he said during his deposition in the libel case.
But his most momentous meeting was with Ken Bensinger of BuzzFeed. In Washington during the Christmastime holidays, he let Mr. Bensinger read the dossier. He then stepped away.
The reporter took cellphone photos. They ended up on Jan. 10, 2017, on BuzzFeed’s website, forever changing political history.
“He said he wanted to read them, he asked me if he could take photos of them on his — I assume it was an iPhone,” Mr. Kramer told the court in a libel case brought against BuzzFeed by a Russian entrepreneur.
U.S. District Court in Miami unsealed court files Thursday, marking the first time Mr. Kramer’s version of events has become public.
“I asked him not to. He said he was a slow reader, he wanted to read it,” Mr. Kramer testified. “So I said, you know, I got a phone call to make, and I had to go to the bathroom so I’ll let you be, because I don’t read well when people are looking at me breathing down my neck. And so I left him to read for 20, 30 minutes.”
“Were you aware that he had taken pictures?” an attorney asked.
“Not until January 10th,” he answered. “I was shocked.”
A rattled Mr. Kramer asked Mr. Bensinger to take down the dossier and leave his name out of it. Mr. Kramer was identified as the dossier leaker during the libel case’s discovery.
Mr. Kramer said Mr. Steele told him, “This wasn’t supposed to happen this way.” The Wall Street Journal exposed Mr. Steele as the author, sending him into hiding for weeks.
The McCain aide later amended his testimony. In a declaration, he said he had no problem with giving BuzzFeed a copy and provided copies to other journalists.
Mr. Kramer said he was pressed by Mr. Steele, who compiled the dossier, to spread the anti-Trump information to a variety of reporters. Mr. Steele himself was working reporters from London in his attempt to get the FBI to zero in on Mr. Trump before he took office.
Mr. Steele’s 35-page dossier claimed there was an “extensive conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence to interfere in the 2016 election via computer hacking. That charge has not been borne out as special counsel Robert Mueller has not charged any Trump-related person with colluding with Russians to affect the election.
The dossier became a rally cry by liberals and Democrats, especially Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and now its chairman. He went on to read the unconfirmed dossier charges into the committee record in March 2017 as he vouched for Mr. Steele.
Mr. Steele was hired by the investigative firm Fusion GPS with money from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Republicans believe Mr. Steele’s work is a hoax and possibly Kremlin disinformation. The dossier explicitly cites Russian officials as sources for some of its more salacious details. Democrats rarely refer to the document.
Continue reading at The Washington Times