Sen. John McCain faces questions in a defamation lawsuit about leaks leading to publication of the now-infamous dossier that alleged Donald Trump's campaign had connections to Russian operatives, McClatchy has learned.
The dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and his London firm, Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., amounted to a collection of uncorroborated reports of collusion gathered as political research for sale to Trump's opponents. It proved explosive when published by online news site BuzzFeed on Jan. 10.
Now, two lawsuits — one in the United States and a second in the U.K. — are being brought by lawyers for Aleksej Gubarev, a Cyprus-based Internet entrepreneur whom Steele's Russian sources accused of cyber spying against the Democratic Party leadership.
According to a new court document in the British lawsuit, counsel for defendants Steele and Orbis repeatedly point to McCain, R-Ariz., a vocal Trump critic, and a former State Department official as two in a handful of people known to have had copies of the full document before it circulated among journalists and was published by BuzzFeed.
The court document obtained by McClatchy confirms that Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow and a Russia adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, discussed the 35-page dossier with McCain.
"The Defendants considered that the issues were self-evidently relevant to the national security of the US, UK and their allies," the document says, explaining why Steele and his partner, Christopher Burrows, felt it necessary to share the dossier's findings.
Wood had told Britain's The Guardian in January that McCain had reached out to him about the dossier, and had obtained it through other means. The court document confirms that Wood, Steele and former State Department official David Kramer decided together that new information gathered after the election should be shared with authorities in Britain and the United States.