A new bombshell report proves that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. shared the unverified dossier that alleged the Russians had compromising information on now-President Trump to the FBI and numerous liberal media outlets.
The now deceased senator, who hated Trump had denied being the source for BuzzFeed after it published the dossier, which was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, but had acknowledged giving it to the FBI, Fox News reports.
In a newly unsealed declaration from September, former senior counterintelligence FBI agent Bill Priestap confirmed that the FBI received a copy of the first 33 pages of the dossier in December 2016 from McCain.
In another filing, David Kramer — a former State Department official and McCain associate — said in a Dec. 13, 2017, deposition that the dossier was given to him by author and former British spy Christopher Steele, which he then provided to more than a dozen journalists at outlets including CNN, BuzzFeed and The Washington Post.
The report was also shared with State Department official Victoria Nuland, Obama National Security Council official Celeste Wallander and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.
The filings were unsealed as part of an ongoing libel case against BuzzFeed by a Russian businessman.
Sir Andrew Wood, a former British diplomat, first briefed Kramer and McCain in November 2016 on the dossier, authored by Steele. Kramer flew to London on Nov. 29, 2016 to meet with Steele. The next day, in the U.S., he obtained a copy of the dossier from Simpson. On Dec. 9, 2016, McCain briefed then-FBI Director James Comey on the salacious report.
Kramer told investigators that it was the sense from Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson that “having Senator McCain provide it to the FBI would give it a little more oomph than it had had up until that point.”
“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” he said.
Kramer also described how BuzzFeed News reporter Ken Bensinger came to get hold of the dossier, before the outlet became the first to publish it in its entirety.
Kramer said Steele asked him to meet with CNN’s Bernstein and BuzzFeed’s Ken Bensinger.
BuzzFeed published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017. The website made the controversial decision hours after CNN, in a story co-authored by Bernstein, reported that then-President-elect Donald Trump had been briefed on the salacious allegations in the dossier on Jan. 6, 2017.
“I met with Mr. Bernstein at Mr. Steele’s request. And I believe Mr. Bernstein had been in touch with Mr. Steele and so Mr. Steele asked me if I would meet with him and talk with him about it. Since Bernstein was in the U.S. and Steele was in London,” said Kramer, who was an executive at the McCain Institute.
He said he met with Bernstein on Jan. 3 or Jan. 4, 2017.
Kramer said he also met Mother Jones’s David Corn, The Guardian’s Julian Borger, and Washington Post reporters Tom Hamburger and Rosalind Helderman. Kramer also said that ABC News’s Brian Ross showed him a copy of some of Steele’s memos.
Kramer’s contact at McClatchy was Peter Stone, a reporter who worked on two debunked stories about former Trump attorney Michael Cohen that are based on allegations from Steele’s dossier.
Kramer said that two of the reporters, Corn and Borger, appeared to have inside knowledge about McCain’s plans to meet with Comey regarding the dossier.
Fusion GPS attempted to plant the dossier with various news outlets prior to the 2016 election. Simpson, Fusion’s founder, met with New York Times reporters, as well as Yahoo! News reporter Michael Isikoff. Corn and Isikoff were the only two reporters to publish stories before the election sourced directly to Steele’s reports.
He said that he showed Bensinger the dossier in December at the McCain Institute, but did not allow him to take pictures of it. But Kramer said he left Bensinger alone to read the memos and, in that time, Bensinger took photos of the dossier.
Kramer said he panicked when he saw that BuzzFeed News had published the document in its entirety online on Jan. 10, and immediately sought to have it taken down.
“I called Mr. Bensinger, and my first words out of my mouth were ‘you are gonna get people killed,’” he said.
The FBI extensively relied on the dossier in its warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in seeking to surveil Trump aide Carter Page — even though some of the dossier’s claims have been called into question, including a claim that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to pay off Russian hackers and other more salacious claims about Trump himself.