By Robert A. Vella
This is a pretty big story, folks, which has largely gone under the news media’s radar. I only became aware of it after watching an interview today on MSNBC with Chuck Rosenberg who is a former U.S. attorney, senior FBI official, and chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A federal judge in Florida on Wednesday ruled that BuzzFeed’s publication of the Christopher Steele dossier, which included a report on Aleksej Gubarev and his companies XBT Holdings SA and Webzilla Inc., was protected as accurate reporting on an official proceeding.
Gubarev is appealing the ruling, according to his lawyer, Evan Fray-Witzer.
Watch this short video: BuzzFeed wins defamation suit over dossier
Although the ruling was confined to BuzzFeed’s 1st Amendment right to publish the intelligence report, none of the dossier’s contents have been disproved despite nearly two years of intense scrutiny. The following is a legal analysis written by Rosenberg ten days ago.
The dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele remains a subject of fascination—or, depending on your perspective, scorn. Indeed, it was much discussed during former FBI Director Jim Comey’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 7. Published almost two years ago by BuzzFeed News in January 2017, the document received significant public attention, first for its lurid details regarding Donald Trump’s pre-presidential alleged sexual escapades in Russia and later for its role in forming part of the basis for the government’s application for a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page.
Our interest in revisiting the compilation that has come to be called the “Steele Dossier” concerns neither of those topics, at least not directly. Rather, we returned to the document because we wondered whether information made public as a result of the Mueller investigation—and the passage of two years—has tended to buttress or diminish the crux of Steele’s original reporting.
The dossier is actually a series of reports—16 in all—that total 35 pages. Written in 2016, the dossier is a collection of raw intelligence. Steele neither evaluated nor synthesized the intelligence. He neither made nor rendered bottom-line judgments. The dossier is, quite simply and by design, raw reporting, not a finished intelligence product.
These materials buttress some of Steele’s reporting, both specifically and thematically. The dossier holds up well over time, and none of it, to our knowledge, has been disproven.
But much of the reporting simply remains uncorroborated, at least by the yardstick we are using. Most significantly, the dossier reports a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [Trump and his associates] and the Russian leadership,” including an “intelligence exchange [that] had been running between them for at least 8 years.” There has been significant investigative reporting about long-standing connections between Trump, his associates and Kremlin-affiliated individuals, and Trump himself acknowledged that the purpose of a June 2016 meeting between his son, Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was to obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. But there is, at present, no evidence in the official record that confirms other direct ties or their relevance to the 2016 presidential campaign. With that caveat, here are excerpts from the dossier that correspond with details contained in official documents.
I highly recommend reading all of Rosenberg’s analysis. You won’t be bored, I can assure you.