A former State Department official served as the middle man between journalists and dossier author Christopher Steele in early 2017, The Daily Caller reports.
According to documents from a British court proceeding, David Kramer, who also worked at the McCain Institute, offered to “feed stories” about President Donald Trump associates to a Washington Post columnist.
Kramer kept Steele in the loop about his contacts with journalists from outlets including BuzzFeed News, CNN, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post regarding aspects of the dossier in January 2017, according to The Daily Caller.
Kramer’s link to reporters was discussed during a closed-door court proceeding that took place July 20-24 in London. Steele, a former MI6 officer, is being sued by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman who Steele’s dossier accuses of hacking Democrats’ computer systems in 2016.
The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained a transcript from the proceedings, which included text messages between Kramer and Steele.
It is already known that Kramer met with reporters to discuss the dossier. But messages indicate Kramer played a bigger role in trying to pump out negative stories in the media about Trump associates.
One of the relationships that was uncovered in texts is Kramer’s connection to David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist who writes about national security issues. Messages show that Kramer hinted to Steele that he would dish out dirt to the writer.
“The Flynn calls story is picking up legs,” Kramer wrote to Steele, likely referring to a Jan. 12, 2017, column by Ignatius that revealed that Flynn spoke by phone weeks earlier with Sergey Kislyak.
In another text he told Steele, “it’s time to get that other [Manafort] story out there.”
He added that “Ignatius is the one I’ll feed it to.”
Steele testified the story Kramer wanted to send to the columnist was about Flynn, not Manafort. He added that the information regarding Flynn he discussed with Kramer was not in the dossier.
“Any story here about Michael Flynn is completely independent of anything in the dossier,” Steele testified.
Lawyers for Gubarev grilled Steele at the trial about his interactions with Kramer in hopes of determining that Steele approved of providing information from the dossier to reporters.
Kramer received the dossier in late November 2016, after meeting Steele in London. He then permitted a BuzzFeed News reporter to photograph the report during a meeting on Dec. 29, 2016. BuzzFeed published the 35-page report on Jan. 10, 2017.
Steele has denied that he authorized Kramer to provide the dossier to BuzzFeed.
The Russian businessman’s lawyers claim otherwise. They highlighted text messages between Steele and Ken Bensinger, the BuzzFeed reporter who published the dossier, discussing a meeting a week before BuzzFeed published the dossier.
The texts between Kramer and Steele also show that Kramer kept Steele updated on reporters’ progress on investigating allegations in the dossier.
Kramer and the reporters discussed the dossier’s allegation that Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials.
Kramer said in a message to Steele that a Wall Street Journal reporter asked him about potentially meeting with Steele, likely in an effort to verify the Cohen allegation.
“He’s tried to run the Prague thing down to no avail,” Kramer wrote of the Journal reporter. “I know you’d rather not, but wanted to ask one more time.”
Steele noted that it was “disappointing they have not corroborated Prague, though perhaps not that surprising.”
The Journal was the first outlet to identify Steele as the author of the dossier in a story on Jan. 12, 2017.
Other texts suggest that reporters kept Kramer updated on their contacts with Cohen and that Kramer let Steele know about The Post’s plans to publish Trump-related stories.
“Don’t have the sense that the Post is on the verge. Will check again tomorrow,” he wrote to Steele.
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