An associate of Arizona Sen. John McCain is invoking his Fifth Amendment rights in order to avoid revealing information to Congress about the Steele dossier.
David J. Kramer, a former State Department official, pleaded the fifth in response to a subpoena issued in December by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Fox News reported.
In a Dec. 19 interview with the committee, Kramer said that he had information about some of the sources of information in the dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and financed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Kramer learned the information in Nov. 2016, after traveling to London to meet with Steele. Kramer and McCain, a Republican, first learned of the dossier earlier that month after meeting with an associate of Steele’s.
After the London meeting, Steele provided a copy of the dossier to Kramer with instructions to share it with McCain. The senator then provided a copy of the document to then-FBI Director James Comey during a Dec. 9, 2016, meeting.
The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena on Dec. 27 to compel Kramer to discuss the dossier’s sources.
Kramer, who was a director at the McCain Institute and now works for Florida International University, has avoided speaking publicly about his handling of the dossier. There has also been widespread speculation that he is BuzzFeed’s source for the document. The website published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.
In addition to his interview with the Intelligence Committee, Kramer was deposed in December as part of a lawsuit filed against BuzzFeed for publishing the dossier. Kramer’s lawyers have requested that his deposition in that case be sealed.
Steele, McCain and Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele to write the dossier, have all denied being BuzzFeed’s source. Kramer is the only person known to have handled the completed dossier who has not denied providing it to BuzzFeed.
Kramer and his attorney have not responded to numerous requests for comment.
McCain Associate Who Handled Dossier Asks Judge To Seal Deposition
An associate of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s who handled the dossier is asking a federal judge to block the release of a videotape and transcript of a deposition he recently gave in a lawsuit related to the salacious document.
David Kramer, a former State Department official and former director at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, filed a motion in federal court in Florida asking a judge for a protective order to block the public release of his deposition.
Kramer was deposed last month by lawyers for a Russian businessman suing BuzzFeed News for publishing the dossier. The lawyers for the businessman, Aleksej Gubarev, are interested in Kramer because he is one of just a few people known to have handled the dossier after it was completed by former British spy Christopher Steele and before its Jan. 10, 2017 publication.
Gubarev’s attorneys want to find out whether BuzzFeed’s source gave any warnings about the veracity of the dossier and whether it was verified or unverified.
Steele, McCain and Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the dossier on behalf of Democrats, have all denied being BuzzFeed’s source.
Kramer has not commented publicly on the issue.
Kramer’s lawyer, Marcos Jiminez, argued in a motion to seal that the release of the deposition would jeopardize his personal safety, make him subject to hounding from the press, and conflict with congressional investigations looking into the dossier.
Kramer was interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee last month and has also met with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Mr. Kramer seeks to prevent the Plaintiffs from sharing his videotaped deposition and accompanying transcript beyond the instant litigation,” wrote Jiminez.
He asserted that Kramer’s deposition in the BuzzFeed lawsuit “would reveal the extent of the Congressional Committees’ knowledge regarding the information provided by Mr. Kramer in closed-door sessions.”
Jimenez also argues that should Kramer’s deposition be released to the public, he “will be hounded by the press.”
Kramer and McCain first learned of the dossier shortly after the 2016 election while attending the Halifax International Security Forum. On the sidelines of that event, Kramer and McCain had a conversation with Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Russia and associate of Steele’s.
Kramer then traveled to London to meet with Steele. While there, the pair made arrangements for Kramer to obtain the dossier back in the U.S. and to provide a copy to McCain.
McCain shared an incomplete version of the dossier with then-FBI Director James Comey on Dec. 9, 2016. The Republican was unaware at the time that Comey and the FBI were already aware of Steele’s report. FBI agents met with the ex-spy multiple times prior to the election.
Steele published his final dossier memo on Dec. 13, 2016. It is that document which alleges that Gubarev used two of his web-hosting companies to hack into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems prior to the election. The dossier also alleges that Gubarev was recruited under duress by Russia’s spy services. He denies all of the allegations. In addition to suing BuzzFeed, he is suing Steele in London, where the former spy is based.
In court filings there, Steele has acknowledged that the Dec. 13 memo contained unverified information.
As of the beginning of this month, Steele and Fusion GPS have dodged requests for depositions from Gubarev’s lawyers.
David Kramer Motion to Seal deposition in BuzzFeed lawsuit by Chuck Ross on Scribd