Christopher Steele, the former British spy behind the now-infamous Trump dossier, has been ordered by a U.S. District Judge in Florida to provide a deposition in a multi-million-dollar libel case brought against BuzzFeed. According to a note from Fox News, Steele is expected to fight the request for his deposition in British courts.
The former British spy who put together an unverified dossier of explosive allegations about President Trump during last year’s campaign has been ordered to give a deposition in a multi-million-dollar libel case brought against a media outlet that published the document.
"We asked the Court in Florida to issue a ‘Request for International Judicial Assistance,’” Fray-Witzer said. The request would have the Florida court ask its British counterpart compel Steele submit to a sworn deposition that would be taken in London and videotaped to be played to the jury at trial.
Former MI-6 British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele is fighting the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, of the Southern District of Florida that he must answer questions in the suit against Buzzfeed. A lawyer directly involved in the case said the issue will likely be argued before the British courts where a similar libel case is being heard.
Steele's London-based company, Orbis Business Intelligence, authored the 35-page dossier while working for American-based Fusion GPS and its founder Glenn Simpson. The document, which was crafted as opposition research for unknown political rivals of Trump, contained salacious charges involving Trump and Russian prostitutes, but none of the claims have been corroborated and most media outlets steered clear of the dossier.
As our readers will undoubtedly recall, Steele reportedly met with the FBI on August 22, 2016 and his dossier was subsequently used to obtain a FISA warrant to monitor communications of Carter Page, a peripheral adviser in the Trump campaign. Apparently, former FBI Director James Comey even considered the debunked dossier so important that he insisted it be included in January's final Intelligence Community Report on Russian meddling in the election and reportedly offered Steele $50,000 to corroborate the dossier.
Of course, this all follows a 10-hour, closed meeting between Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS which retained Steele to compile the dossier, and the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week. While Simpson apparently provided 1,000's of documents for that meeting, though only after being compelled to do so with a subpoena, he refused to reveal precisely who retained his firm to conduct their opposition research. Per CNN:
"Fusion's initial production of documents consisted of solely of headlines from publicly available news reports and more than 7,500 pages of blank paper,” Grassley spokesman Taylor Foy said. “Fusion eventually provided a copy of the same unverified dossier that's been publicly available since January, and a privilege log that raises more questions than it answers."
Fox reported this week that Fusion GPS gave the committee 40,000 documents.
The records were finally provided by Simpson and his legal team after Grassley sent several letters raising questions about the dossier, moved a Judiciary Committee hearing to accommodate Simpson's schedule, and withdrew a subpoena in return for a pledge of cooperation.
"I'd note that only after the subpoena did Simpson indicated any willingness to cooperate voluntarily, yet the documents produced by his legal team have not been responsive to the committee's questions," Foy said.
Meanwhile, just yesterday we learned from The Hill that the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to release the transcripts Simpson's closed hearing at some point in the near future.
"It will take a vote of the committee to do it, but I presume that they will be released," Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said at a Mount Ayr, Iowa, town hall meeting on Wednesday, The Washington Examiner reported.
Grassley said that the process of releasing Simpson's testimony would be lengthy, and Simpson and his lawyer would have to receive a copy of the testimony before it could be made public.
"It takes a long time for the court reporter to get it ready to go, but we'll have to give it to them before the thing you're asking me about can be done," the senator said, adding that he predicts the committee will vote to release the transcript.
"I don't know why I wouldn't. But I don't want to say so because I've never — in all the years I've been in Congress, well, I guess I've only been chairman of two committees, I've never gone through this process before. So I'm not going to answer your question until I get a firm footing of what the precedent is," he said.
Conclusion: After a year we're still no closer to learning the only key fact in the Trump dossier scandal, namely who ordered the dossier, but at least we know with complete certainty where Steve Mnuchin viewed the eclipse.