Courtroom hearing reveals John McCain associate purposely funneled Steele dossier to Buzzfeed

(Screenshot/Military public domain)

Roughly a month and a half after the 2016 presidential election, a close associate of the late Sen. John McCain funneled a fraudulent and thoroughly debunked dossier on then-President-elect Donald Trump to various members of the media, including Ken Bensinger of BuzzFeed News.

This and other revelations were unveiled at a court hearing this week involving a suit filed last year against BuzzFeed by Cyprus resident Aleksej Gubarev and his company XBT Holding alleging that the news publisher’s decision to publish the dossier in January 2017 had defamed them.

Though U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro ultimately ruled against Gubarev, arguing that BuzzFeed is protected by the fair reporting privilege, Wednesday’s proceedings did allow for the uncovering of new information regarding how the publisher got a hold of the dossier in the first place.

“BuzzFeed’s Ken Bensinger obtained the dossier from David Kramer, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova,” Variety reported, citing court documents from the hearing. “They met at the McCain Institute on Dec. 29, 2016.”

Their meeting at the McCain Institute was not incidental. It was McCain who had dispatched Kramer, a member of the institute, to obtain copies of the dossier roughly a month before the meeting.

Previous reports revealed that sometime in late 2016, former British diplomat Andrew Wood — a friend of British spy Christopher Steele, the man who compiled the dossier for the firm Fusion GPS — met with the Arizona senator to inform him of the contents of the since-discredited document.

Following the meeting, McCain reportedly dispatched Kramer to obtain the dossier directly from Fusion GPS. It’s what happened afterward that remains a bit murky.

“Kramer met Nov. 30, 2016, with McCain and McCain’s chief of staff, Christopher Brose, to review Steele’s reports,” The Daily Caller notes. “Kramer advised McCain to share the reports with the FBI and the CIA.”

The senator did exactly that.

“Late last year, I received sensitive information that has since been made public,” he wrote in a statement last year. “Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the Director of the FBI.”


But Kramer reportedly took action as well, choosing to arrange a meeting with BuzzFeed. During that meeting, the dossier wound up in the hands of Bensinger.

“Kramer testified that Bensinger took photos of the Dossier when Kramer was out of the room, even though he asked Bensinger not to,” Ungaro wrote in her ruling, 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.”

Long story short, McCain’s associate purposefully funneled the dossier to BuzzFeed and perhaps other media outlets as well. What remains unclear is whether he performed these actions voluntarily or under the direction of the Arizona senator.

It also remains unclear why the senator had been so focused on the dossier. An anonymous former national security official who spoke with The New Yorker earlier this year claimed the plan had been for McCain to confront Trump with the dossier and demand his resignation.

Combined, these revelations have served to only strengthen the late senator’s image as a virulently anti-Trump zealot who was willing to do anything to harm the president. He was, as argued by some on social media, a ” backstabbing selfish crapweasel.”

The dossier was paid for by 2016 Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her allies at the Democrat National Committee.



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Vivek Saxena


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