The opposition research firm that produced the explosive dossier alleging ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia has claimed in new court filings that it did not provide the dossier to BuzzFeed, which published the document in full in January.
The filings were part of Fusion GPS’s efforts to quash a subpoena issued in late August by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian tech executive whom the dossier accused of targeting Democratic Party leadership with malware and “botnets.” Gubarev is now suing both BuzzFeed and the dossier’s author, Christopher Steele.
Steele, a former British spy who spent decades on MI6’s Moscow desk, was hired by Fusion to research Trump’s purported ties to Russia.
In their initial attempt to quash Gubarev’s subpoena, Fusion said it would be willing to provide any “pre-publication communications” it had with BuzzFeed about the dossier prior to its publication.
Court documents filed on Tuesday, however, included a September 12 email from a lawyer with the firm representing Fusion informing Gubarev’s attorney that “we have found no pre-publication communications” between the firm and BuzzFeed.
From the filings:
Fusion’s attorneys wrote in the court filings that Gubarev’s attempts to “open the door to wide-ranging discovery” of the firm were “unpersuasive” because Fusion “did not create or author the December memo, and did not give it to BuzzFeed.”
Evan Fray-Witzer, an attorney for Gubarev, said during a discovery hearing on September 28 that “the one thing
that [Fusion] have told us is BuzzFeed didn’t get the dossier from them. BuzzFeed went to them and tried to get the dossier from them and they refused to give it to BuzzFeed.”
A spokesperson for Fusion GPS repeated that claim on Wednesday.
“While there may have been a request by Buzzfeed, no documents were shared,” the spokesperson told Business Insider.
BuzzFeed did not immediately return a request for comment.
The dossier had been making its way around Washington, DC, for months leading up to its publication. Numerous reporters revealed after it was published that they had been approached to write about the dossier and its allegations.
Mother Jones’ David Corn reported on some of the dossier’s allegations in October after speaking with Steele and “his associates at the American firm” that hired him. Neither Steele nor Fusion GPS were named in Corn’s story. Their identities were only revealed later, well after BuzzFeed published the dossier in full.
Corn reported, however, that Steele had approached the FBI “without the permission of the US company that hired him” in July after spending a month collecting information about Trump’s alleged Russia ties. Steele forwarded the FBI additional memos in August, at which point they began communicating regularly, Corn reported.
Fusion GPS was therefore not the only entity with access to the dossier. The document was reportedly obtained by David Kramer, who then passed it along to Republican Sen. John McCain. McCain then provided it to former FBI Director James Comey.
The FBI had reportedly already used the dossier’s allegations to bolster its case for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against early Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Fusion over the summer but dropped the request when the firm’s cofounder, Glenn Simpson, agreed to a closed-door interview.
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