McCain couldn't wait to get the dossier into Comey's hands
McCain, R-Ariz., previously had acknowledged getting a copy of the dossier, which was a compilation of memos written by former British spy Christopher Steele, and delivering it to then-FBI Director James Comey.
David Kramer, a longtime friend of Jon McCain, circulated the dossier to multiple news organizations, a revelation that until now, had not been disclosed.
McCain had said he learned of the dossier after Kramer introduced him to a retired British diplomat who knew of the dossier. Kramer said that diplomat approached him presumably as a way to connect with McCain, who was deemed an influential conduit.
After a lunch a nearby pub, Steele told Kramer “that he thought having Senator McCain weigh in would be hopeful in terms of giving the FBI additional prod to take this seriously,” Kramer said.
Kramer added later that "... I think he (Steele) felt that ... having Sen. McCain provide it to the FBI would give it a little more oomph than it had had up until that point."
It helped that McCain, a six-term senator and chairman of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee, "was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack."
Back in Washington, D.C., Kramer obtained two versions of the dossier by Glenn Simpson, a former journalist and co-founder of Fusion GPS, a research firm. One was a copy with redactions, the other had no redactions. Steele was contracted by Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Trump for the Democratic National Committee and the law firm representing the campaign of Trump's then-Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Kramer said Steele and Simpson knew he would be giving the dossier to McCain.
During the hand-off in McCain’s office one evening in late November 2016, Kramer recalled telling McCain and aide Chris Brose that he was couldn't verify the information but that the senator should share it with law enforcement.
McCain asked Kramer to share the report with a State Department official and a National Security Council official.
Steele and Simpson give two copies to Kramer
Kramer obtained two versions of the dossier by Glenn Simpson, a former journalist and co-founder of Fusion GPS, a research firm. One was a copy with redactions, the other had no redactions.
McCain directed Kramer to travel to London to meet with Steele. During that one-day trip in his "personal capacity," Steele met Kramer at the airport and identified himself via text message as the man wearing a blue coat, holding a Financial Times newspaper.
Steele drove Kramer to his home and Kramer read the dossier in his living room.
Righteous McCain: "I had an obligation to bring to the attention of appropriate officials unproven accusations I could not assess myself, and which, were any of them true, would create a vulnerability to the designs of a hostile foreign power,"
The McCain associate distributed dossier to BuzzFeed, other media
Kramer acknowledged during the deposition that he gave a copy of the memos to reporters at BuzzFeed News, McClatchy news service, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio. Kramer said Steele and Simpson were aware of some of his contacts with media outlets; he said Steele specifically asked him to meet with a BuzzFeed reporter and veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, which he did.
“I, you know, became aware that other journalists either had seen it or had it,” Kramer said in the deposition. “I stressed to every person I met the sensitivity of the document, the need to verify or refute it, and not to publish it. Unless or until that would be done. And if it was refuted, it was obviously no reason to publish it.”
Kramer met with a BuzzFeed reporter on Dec. 29, 2016, at the McCain Institute in Washington, D.C. The office was closed for the holidays, he said. They met for no more than an hour.
The reporter asked if he could take photos of the memos.
" ... 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,” Kramer recalled. “I asked him not to. He said he was a slow reader, he wanted to read it. And 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.”
Kramer said he did not know photos had been taken, and that if he had known that the reporter was going to take photos — and that BuzzFeed would publish the memos — he would not have given the reporter access to the dossier.
Kramer learned from Simpson that BuzzFeed had posted the memos, and called the reporter.
"And my first words out of my mouth were, ‘You are gonna get people killed,'” he said in the deposition.
And, he recalled his reaction when he saw — while coincidentally meeting with a reporter from the Guardian — CNN’s reporting of the dossier.
“I believe my words were, ‘Holy s--t.’”
Kramer tried talking the Journal out of publishing Steele’s name in their reporting, but when that was unsuccessful, “Mr. Steele went into hiding,” Kramer said, adding, “He was shocked.”
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