Federal Judge Orders Release Of Christopher Steele Deposition

MIAMI – A federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered the release of depositions given by former British spy Christopher Steele and a longtime associate of late Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain in a lawsuit filed against BuzzFeed regarding Steele’s anti-Trump dossier.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro overruled requests by Steele and David Kramer, the former McCain associate, to keep depositions they gave in the BuzzFeed lawsuit under seal. Ungaro dismissed a lawsuit filed against BuzzFeed on Dec. 19, 2018, by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman accused in the dossier of using his companies to hack into DNC computers.

The depositions by Steele and Kramer, a former Department of State official, are likely to shed light on how the dossier was compiled and disseminated to U.S. government officials and the press. Ungaro ordered the documents’ release for March 14.

Kramer, a former State Department official, provided the dossier to a BuzzFeed reporter Dec. 28, 2016, several weeks after meeting with Steele in London.

Steele was hired in June 2016 by opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. He produced 17 separate memos dated between June 20, 2016, and Dec. 13, 2016, alleging a vast conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Kremlin to influence the election.

Though the document remains unverified, the FBI cited Steele’s report extensively in applications to obtain surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The dossier suffered a heavy blow Wednesday, during the congressional testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen denied, under oath, he visited Prague during the 2016 campaign, as the dossier alleges.

Steele, a former MI6 official, claimed Cohen visited Kremlin officials in Prague to discuss paying off Russian hackers.

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