AP NEWS

David Kramer spread Steele dossier around Washington during Trump transition

March 15, 2019

David Kramer, the John McCain aide who leaked the discredited Christopher Steele dossier on President Trump, testified in a libel case that he spread the unsubstantiated anti-Trump material all over Washington during the presidential transition.

Mr. Kramer, a former State Department official and a Trump detractor, leaked dossier material to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt, CNN’s Carl Bernstein, National Public Radio, McClatchy news service and others, he said.

But his most momentous meeting was with Ken Bensinger of BuzzFeed. In Washington during the Christmas holidays, he let Mr. Bensinger read the dossier. He then stepped away.

The reporter took cell phone photos. They ended up on Jan. 10, 2017 on BuzzFeed’s web site, forever changing political history.

“He said he wanted to read them, he asked me if he could take photos of them on his I assume it was an iPhone,” Mr. Kramer said during a deposition in a libel case brought against BuzzFeed by a Russian entrepreneur.

The U.S. District Court in Miami unsealed court files on Thursday.

“I asked him not to. He said he was a slow reader, he wanted to read it,” Mr. Kramer testified. “So I said, you know, I got a phone call to make, and I had to go to the bathroom so I’ll let you be because I don’t read well when people are looking at me breathing down my neck. And so I left him to read for 20, 30 minutes.”

“Were you aware that he had taken pictures?” an attorney asked.

“Not until January 10th,” he answered.

Mr. Kramer said he was pressed by Mr. Steele, the British ex-spy who compiled the dossier, to spread the anti-Trump information to a variety of reporters. Mr. Steele himself was working reporters from London in his attempt to get the FBI to zero in on Mr. Trump before he took office.

Mr. Steele’s 35-page dossier alleged that there was an “extensive conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence to interfere in the 2016 election via computer hacking.

That charge has not been borne out as Special Counsel Robert Mueller has not charged any Trump-related person with colluding with Russians to affect the election.