John McCain Aide Tried to Keep Paper from Naming Christopher Steele as Dossier Author

(INSET: John McCain) WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Brazilian President Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House March 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is hosting President Bolsonaro for a visit and bilateral talks at the White House today. …
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AARON KLEIN

TEL AVIV — David Kramer, a long-time advisor to late Senator John McCain, revealed that he spent “a good hour or two” talking to two Wall Street Journal editors in a failed attempt to convince them not to publish the name of Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the infamous, largely-discredited anti-Trump dossier.

In a deposition on Dec. 13, 2017 that was recently posted online, Kramer recounted briefing numerous reporters in private about the dossier.

He admitted that, at the request of Steele, he held a meeting about the dossier with a reporter from BuzzFeed News who he says snapped photos of the controversial document without Kramer’s permission when he left the room to go to the bathroom. That meeting was held at the McCain Institute office in Washington, Kramer stated.

BuzzFeed infamously published Steele’s full dossier on January 10, 2017, setting off a firestorm of news media coverage about the document.

BuzzFeed posted the full dossier hours after CNN first reported the same day the leaked information that the controversial contents of the dossier were presented during classified briefings inside classified documents presented one week earlier to then-president Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.

In the deposition, Kramer disclosed that, at the request of Steele, the McCain deputy also met with CNN’s Carl Bernstein to brief him in the dossier. Bernstein’s byline appeared on the January 10 CNN article first reporting on the dossier contents.

Neither CNN nor BuzzFeed named Steele as the author of the dossier in their respective reports.

Steele’s name was first disclosed one day later in a Wall Street Journal article titled, “Christopher Steele, Ex-British Intelligence Officer, Said to Have Prepared Dossier on Trump.”

In his deposition, Kramer says that he tried to convince the Wall Street Journal not to reveal Steele’s name.

He says that Steele called him “within an hour” after the memo was initially published, ostensibly referring to BuzzFeed’s January 10 publication.

The next day, after he learned about the pending Wall Street Journal story, Kramer says that he called the newspaper about withholding Steele’s identity:

He [Steele] called me. And then after that the next day I learned the Wall Street Journal was going to publish his name. Mr. Steele’s name.

I contacted two editors there to ask them not to do so. They had already made up their mind, it was clear to me, although I spent a good hour or two talking to them, explaining to them why this was a terrible decision on their part. They went ahead and did so, and then Mr. Steele went into hiding.

Kramer did not say during that part of the testimony why he thought it was a “terrible” decision to publish Steele’s name. He also did not say how he learned that the Wall Street Journal was planning to reveal Steele was the dossier’s author.

Kramer did say that after Steele’s name surfaced, the ex-British spy told him that the publicity “was causing considerable problems for him.”

Kramer also recalled Steele telling him, “Yeah, he said this wasn’t supposed to happen this way.”

“I said the same thing to Mr. Simpson,” Kramer added, “that this was only supposed to have been released or posted and published if it had been verified.”

Kramer was referring to Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of the controversial Fusion GPS firm, which hired Steele to do the anti-Trump work that resulted in the compilation of the dossier.

Fusion GPS was paid for its anti-Trump work by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee via the Perkins Coie law firm.

The Wall Street Journal article in question named Steele as the dossier author, but did not report on the role of Fusion GPS in producing the anti-Trump document.

Prior to his death, McCain admitted to personally handing the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey, but he refused repeated requests for comment about whether he had a role in providing the dossier to BuzzFeed, including numerous inquiries sent to his office by this reporter.

In his book published last year, McCain maintained he had an “obligation” to pass the dossier charges against Trump to Comey and he would even do it again. “Anyone who doesn’t like it can go to hell,” McCain exclaimed.

Kramer’s testimony sheds a new light on the role of McCain’s office in disseminating the dossier that was reportedly involved in the FBI’s initial investigation into the Trump campaign and unsubstantiated claims of Russian collusion.

In addition, Comey cited the dossier as evidence in a successful FISA application to obtain a warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, a former adviser to President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Kramer said that he believed McCain was sought out in order to provide credibility to the dossier claims.

“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 stated.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.

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