A bombshell court filing revealed on Wednesday that an associate of the late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) shared the infamous — and uncorroborated — Steele dossier with Buzzfeed shortly before the outlet published it in January of 2017.
The revelation comes after McCain strongly denied being Buzzfeed’s source behind the dossier, which was funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. However, he did admit to handing it over to the FBI long before it became public.
David Kramer, a McCain Institute fellow who was subpoenaed in regard to the dossier, traveled to London to receive it from British ex-spy Christopher Steele on orders from McCain himself and then showed it to Buzzfeed reporter Ken Bensinger in December of 2016, it was revealed in a defamation case against the publication.
“Kramer reviewed with Bensinger what he knew about the dossier and explained that he took the allegations seriously,” according to the filing. Kramer did, however, note that “some of the information was unverified.”
Kramer initially testified that he had allowed Bensinger to take photos of the dossier, but later “stated that he had no objection to Bensinger taking a hard copy and had provided hard copies to other journalists.”
Buzzfeed then published the 35-page dossier full of salacious allegations against President Donald Trump the next month, after CNN revealed its existence. It was titled “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia.”
While many of the allegations in the dossier remain unconfirmed, the FBI still relied on it for permission under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to surveil Trump aide Carter Page, despite one of the first reporters to report on its existence insisting many of the allegations are “likely false.”
The new revelations come from U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro’s opinion in a defamation case brought against Buzzfeed by a corporation based in Luxembourg. XBT Holdings alleges the outlet recklessly spread misinformation about the company’s supposed involvement in cyber warfare against Democratic Party officials in the dossier.