Previously sealed court documents reveal how Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and one of his associates, former State Department official David Kramer and McCain Institute fellow, shared the Democratic National Committee-funded Russia dossier with the FBI and various media outlets. McCain previously denied being BuzzFeed's source after the outlet published the dossier.
According to Fox News, "former senior counterintelligence FBI agent Bill Priestap confirmed that the FBI received a copy of the first 33 pages of the dossier in December 2016 from McCain."
In a 2017 court filing, Kramer confirmed that British spy Christopher Steele provided the dossier to him. Kramar then turned around and provided the dossier to reporters at McClatchy, NPR, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed and CNN’s Carl Bernstein, The Daily Caller reported.
The report was also shared with State Department official Victoria Nuland, Obama National Security Council official Celeste Wallander and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).
It is speculation that Fusion GPS sought out McCain because of his political standing.
“I think they felt a senior Republican 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,” Kramer said.
Kramer explained how BuzzFeed published the dossier (from The Daily Caller):
Fusion GPS attempted to plant the dossier with various news outlets prior to the 2016 election. Simpson, Fusion’s founder, met with New York Times reporters, as well as Yahoo! News reporter Michael Isikoff. Corn and Isikoff were the only two reporters to publish stories before the election sourced directly to Steele’s reports.
Kramer also revealed details of his fateful meeting with Bensinger, the BuzzFeed reporter.
During a meeting at the McCain Institute on Dec. 29, 2016, Kramer said that Bensinger took photos of all 35 pages of the dossier. Kramer said he did not permit Bensinger to photograph the dossier, but that he left the room for 30 minutes to allow the reporter to review the document.
Kramer also said he gave Bensinger the same warning he provided other reporters he spoke with about the dossier.
“I said to him what I had said to the others, which is I’m not in a position to verify or refute this, but that it seemed to me to be serious enough to be looked at in a professional way, and that professional journalists were arguably in a position to look into the matter,” said Kramer. “And I stressed to him the sensitivity of it; that it had to be handled very carefully. And he agreed.”
Kramer said Simpson informed him about BuzzFeed’s publication of the dossier. He said he immediately called Bensinger to request the report be taken down.
“My first words out of my mouth were you are gonna get people killed,” said Kramer.
Kramer also said that he spoke to Steele hours after BuzzFeed published the dossier and that the former spy was “shocked.” The longtime McCain associate also said he lied to Steele about providing the dossier to Bensinger.
“He did ask me subsequently, and I denied it,” Kramer said when asked what he told Steele about the Bensinger contact.
Kramer said he lied to Steele out of concern that admitting he was BuzzFeed’s source would end their relationship.
“Initially I panicked, and then I felt I could try to do more good and by maintaining contact with Mr. Steele which I thought might end if I had told him,” said Kramer, who is now a fellow at Florida International University.
The documents were unsealed as part of a libel lawsuit against BuzzFeed