by Jeff Carlson, The Epoch Times:
David Kramer, a longtime associate of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), revealed in an unsealed deposition that he had contact with at least 14 members of the media regarding the Steele dossier—a collection of 17 memos containing unverified allegations against Donald Trump.
Additionally, Kramer gave a full copy of the unverified dossier to then-Senior Director for Russian Affairs at the National Security Council Celeste Wallander, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and then-House Speaker Paul Ryan’s chief of staff, Jonathan Burks. Kramer also provided a briefing in early December 2016 on the dossier to both Wallander and Victoria Nuland, then the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian Affairs.
Kramer also provided ongoing updates to Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, former MI6 spy and dossier author Christopher Steele, and other members of the media regarding McCain’s meeting with FBI Director James Comey.
Steele had been hired by Simpson on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to produce the so-called Steele dossier on Trump.
Kramer, in his deposition, confirmed that he was BuzzFeed News’ source for the dossier. BuzzFeed published the dossier online in January 2017, resulting in a defamation lawsuit by Aleksej Gubarev, whose company XBT/Webzilla was mentioned in the dossier. The Epoch Times covered the court case in a previous article.
McCain famously denied ever providing a copy of the dossier to BuzzFeed, telling the Daily Caller on Oct. 18, 2017: “I gave it to no one except for the director of the FBI. I don’t know why you’re digging this up now.”
Kramer, who is an affiliated senior fellow at the McCain Institute, revealed in his deposition that he had been in contact with 14 journalists and producers about the dossier. These contacts included:
- ABC News: Brian Ross, Matt Mosk
- BuzzFeed: Ken Bensinger
- CNN: Carl Bernstein
- The Guardian: Julian Borger
- McClatchy: Peter Stone, Greg Gordon
- Mother Jones: David Corn
- NPR: Bob Little, Rachel Martin
- The Washington Post: Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman, Fred Hiatt
- The Wall Street Journal: Allan Cullison
Kramer, who doesn’t appear to have spoken with The New York Times, noted that both Simpson and Steele were speaking to the Times directly because “they felt it required investigation by a serious news outlet, and they seemed to have chosen The Times at that point.”
McCain Meets Sir Andrew Wood
Kramer said he was initially approached about the Steele dossier on Nov. 19, 2016, by Sir Andrew Wood, the former British ambassador to Russia, during a meeting at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Kramer knew Wood previously from their mutual expertise on Russia. Notably, Wood may have worked on behalf of Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence; he was referenced in a UK court filing as an associate of Orbis, and Kramer referred to Wood as an adviser to Orbis in his deposition. Wood had been previously briefed on the dossier by Steele in London.
Kramer said that Wood told him that “he was aware of information that he thought I should be aware of and that Senator McCain might be interested in.” McCain, Wood, and Kramer would meet later that afternoon, on Nov. 19, 2016, in a private meeting room at the Halifax conference.
Wood told both Kramer and McCain that “he was aware of this information that had been gathered that raised the possibility of collusion and compromising material on the president-elect. And he explained that he knew the person who gathered the information and felt that the person was of the utmost credibility.”
Kramer ascribed the word “collusion” three times to Wood in his deposition.
Wood also mentioned that there was the possibility of a video “of a sexual nature” that might have “shown the president-elect in a compromising situation.” According to Kramer, Wood said that “if it existed, that it was from a hotel in Moscow when president-elect, before he was president-elect, had been in Moscow.”
No such video was ever uncovered or given to Kramer.
Kramer testified that following the description of the video, “the senator turned to me and asked if I would go to London to meet with what turned out to be Mr. Steele.”
Kramer traveled to London to meet with Steele on Nov. 28, 2016. Kramer reviewed all the memos during his meeting with Steele but wasn’t provided with a physical copy of the dossier.
In response to a question regarding Steele’s sources, Kramer noted that “there was a piece of paper in which the names were there.” Kramer testified that he recognized some of the names on the paper that Steele purported to be his sources:
Q: “Were any of the names people with whom you were already familiar because of your background in Russia?”
The matter of sources was returned to later in Kramer’s deposition, when he indicated that at least one of the names was a “serious, high-level source.”
Q: “You knew some of the names; correct?”
Kramer: “I was familiar with — I was certainly familiar with one of the names and vaguely familiar with the second.”
In regard to the name that Kramer knew, he noted, “If that person was a source, it was a serious high-level source.” Under further questioning, Kramer noted, “Two of the other names also seemed to be serious if they were, in fact, the sources.”
Kramer’s familiarity with the names of Steele’s alleged sources is of some interest. Although the dossier has been largely discredited, the fact that Kramer recognized these alleged sources indicates they were likely fairly well-known names. The identities of these alleged sources haven’t been publicly reported.
Notably, these sources were second- and third-hand, as both Steele and Kramer testified that there was an intermediary between Steele and these sources.
Kramer noted that Steele told him that the information in the dossier “needed to be corroborated and verified.” According to Kramer, Steele said he “did not feel that he was in a position to vouch for everything that was produced in this.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Kramer said, Steele told him that “he would arrange for Glenn Simpson to get me a copy of the material upon my return to Washington.”
When Kramer returned to Washington, he was provided with a copy of the dossier—which, at that point, consisted of 16 memos—at a meeting with Simpson on Nov. 29, 2016. Kramer also testified that there was another individual, “a male,” present at the meeting.
Interestingly, Kramer testified that Simpson gave him two copies of the dossier, noting that Simpson told him that “one had more things blacked out than the other.” Kramer said, “It wasn’t entirely clear to me why there were two versions of this, so but I took both versions.”