Answers to burning Congressional “Russiagate” questions are about to explode from two civil libel cases currently pending in Florida.
Both sides of the litigation need detailed evidence to present in their cases that could blow the lid off a major Obama administration coverup. Prying that information out of the Justice Department is going to be tough. They are claiming “law enforcement privilege”
Congress has been taking a hard look at former British spy Christopher Steele and his folder full of fantasies but they aren’t the only ones probing. Answers to oversight committee questions and more may come out of the civil courts.
We already know that Hillary Clinton’s election campaign and the Democratic National Committee picked up the tab for Steele’s infamously dirty dossier. An illegal conspiracy also took place, at the top ranks of the U.S. Justice Department itself.
All of Steele’s scandalous material was intentionally leaked to the press. That’s why Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and his colleague Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) want to know if “Steele coordinated in any way with employees of the FBI or DOJ,” to leak the dossier to the media.
Aleksej Gubarev sued both Steele and online media outlet BuzzFeed, also naming BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith. The liberal rag-sheet published the whole, uncut dossier. Now Gubarev is suing for libel and defamation.
According to Gubarev’s lawsuits, Steele “defamed him” by reporting that his companies, XBT Holding S.A. and its subsidiary, Webzilla, hijacked Democratic Party computers “using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations.’”
To back up his allegations, Gubarev needs all the gory details. He has to show that BuzzFeed was legally “malicious.”
In order to defend themselves, BuzzFeed needs help from the government. So far, they haven’t been getting it. As a news provider, BuzzFeed is claiming the “Fair Report Privilege,” which lets them “republish allegedly defamatory statements.”
There is only one restriction. The statements must be “made within the context of government activities.” Both Gubarev and BuzzFeed need testimony from everyone responsible for putting the file together and passing it around.
They especially need to talk to any government staffer that officially “used the information.” Subpoenas are flying like snowflakes in a blizzard.
The DNC has been battling BuzzFeed over a subpoena demanding “technical information” that they don’t want to release. Gubarev wants anything they have to back up their story detailing all the “‘clues’ and ‘evidence’ left behind by the cyber-intruders who breached the DNC’s network in 2016.”
Steele’s dossier claimed Webzilla did it. Now the DNC has to prove it. The world is holding their breath while a D.C. federal district court makes up its mind if the DNC needs to hand the information over or not.
In order to claim the “Fair Report Privilege,” BuzzFeed needs an assist from the federal government. They need to prove that “the Steele dossier triggered a federal investigation.”
BuzzFeed already went to court over the documents they seek. After the hearing, they followed their arguments up with a report to the judge. They would be thrilled with a minimal affidavit spelling out three simple things.
Did “the FBI, DOJ, or Office of National Intelligence” have a copy of the dossier before January 10, 2017; did Senator John McCain get a copy of the dossier’s first 33 pages on or about December 9, 2016 and; “whether, prior to January 10, 2017, Mr. Clapper, Mr. Rogers, Mr. Brennan, and/or Mr. Comey briefed President Obama about the Dossier and provided a synopsis of it.”
The Justice Department scrambled to get a secret statement into the hands of the judge. They filed a declaration “classified SECRET for the Court’s ex parte, in camera review.” Ex parte means “one-sided,” the plaintiff can’t have a peek, and “in camera” means “in private.”
The DOJ swears under oath that answering those three questions would violate “law enforcement privilege,” so they aren’t going to answer them unless the court orders them to. This judge might just do that.
When they used the same argument at a February hearing, the judge told them their theory would be “hard to sell.” Especially because all the plaintiff is asking for is “a two-paragraph affidavit that says, ‘this is when we got the December memo.'”
Still, the DOJ attorney insists answering those particular questions would compromise “law-enforcement-sensitive information” because “the DOJ, the FBI, and the Office of National Intelligence had never confirmed the dossier contents were being investigated as of January 10, 2017.”
The judge pointed out that the recent Nunes memo blew that assertion right out of the water.
Gubarev is also trying to pry “documents related to Steele, the dossier, and XBT holding and Webzilla” out of the files of Fusion GPS.
He wants to put Glenn Simpson and other Fusion GPS management on the witness stand “to determine the purported factual basis for the dossier’s allegedly defamatory statements.”
One of the most important things to come out of the civil suits involves an aide to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), David Kramer. Evidence implicates Kramer as the one who provided the file to BuzzFeed.
On the other side of the pond, a British court recently ruled in Gubarev’s favor, allowing Christopher Steele to be called to the stand for questioning.
What he is expected to say in testimony may “contradict Democrats’ narrative that the FBI and DOJ reasonably relied on the dossier to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) wiretap of former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.”
Steele allegedly told Kramer that the evidence in his file was “raw intelligence.”
The only reason he wanted McCain to have it was for “the sole purpose of analyzing, investigating and verifying their contents to enable such action to be taken as necessary for the purpose of protecting US national security.”
Instead of verifying the information, Obama’s minions took it straight to the FISA court and used it to start doing political wiretaps that “make Watergate look like the petty burglary it was.”