John McCain’s rivalry with President Trump nearly led to a confrontation intended to remove the New York billionaire from office.
In a detailed profile of dossier author Christopher Steele for the New Yorker, a former national security official said long-time McCain associate David J. Kramer hatched a plot whereby the Arizona Republican lawmaker would confront the president with the unverified document to pressure him to resign.
Kramer, a Russia expert and former State Department official, received the dossier directly from Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
Upon receiving the document, McCain in turn handed it over to FBI Director James Comey in December 2016, by which time the Bureau already had access to the dossier and had used it to obtain FISA surveillence warrants on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
According to the New Yorker, Kramer intended to use the document to force President Trump to step down.
“After Kramer promised to share the document only with McCain, Steele arranged for Kramer to receive a copy in Washington. But a former national-security official who spoke with Kramer at the time told me that one of Kramer’s ideas was to have McCain confront Trump with the evidence, in the hope that Trump would resign. ‘He would tell Trump, “The Russians have got you,”‘ the former official told me.”
The New Yorker noted that a lawyer for Kramer denied the claim from the unnamed national security official, saying that his client never planned to have the president resign.
It is not known whether McCain was aware at the time that the dossier was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
The two organizations financed the Steele-authored, Fusion GPS-commissioned opposition research via the law firm Perkins Coie.
Last month, the Washington Post reported that McCain came to know about the dossier through Kramer, who had been contacted by Steele associate Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Russia.
Kramer set up a meeting between Wood and McCain on the sidelines of a security conference in Canada. McCain was interested in the dossier’s claims and asked Kramer to go to Steele’s home to personally review the document.
In January, McCain released a statement addressing his handing over of the dossier to the FBI:
“Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the Director of the FBI. That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue.”