Opposition research firm Fusion GPS was dealt a major blow on Tuesday when the a federal judge in a lawsuit against BuzzFeed ordered them to answer a wide-ranging series of questions on the infamous Steele dossier, reports the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross.
U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro issued the decision Tuesday in a defamation lawsuit a Russian tech executive filed against BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.
The trial is scheduled to begin in Miami in November.
Ungaro ruled that attorneys for the executive, Aleksej Gubarev, can ask Fusion GPS representatives in a deposition about the firm’s dossier clients, its efforts to verify the dossier, its decision to hire dossier author Christopher Steele and its interactions with government officials and media outlets, including BuzzFeed. -Daily Caller
“This ruling gave us everything that we had hoped for,” Evan Fray-Witzer, a lawyer for Gubarev, told The Daily Caller News Foundation - adding “After a year of trying everything they could think of to avoid being deposed, Fusion is finally going to have to sit down and answer our questions."
Aleksej Gubarev, owner of global tech firm XBT Holding - which owns Dallas-based Webzilla, is suing BuzzFeed for defamation, claiming they failed to properly investigate the dossier's allegations before publishing the 35-page document - which include the claim that Gubarev was "recruited under duress" by Russia's Federal Security Service, the FSB.
He is mentioned in the last of 17 memos of the dossier - the last of which dated Dec. 13, 2016 claims that Webzilla used viruses and malware to infiltrate the DNC's networks.
Last January, Gubarev said that he was never even contacted by authorities over the matter.
The salacious innuendoes in the periodic reports about Trump’s personal life dominated social media headlines. The mention of Webzilla and Gubarev was among the more specific allegations: that XBT and affiliates “had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.”
Gubarev said he operated 75,000 servers across the globe and got real-time information if there had been hacking or illicit activity tied to his businesses. There is no evidence of that, he said, adding that no one has contacted him.
“I have a physical office in Dallas. Nobody contacted me,” said Gubarev, adding that 40 percent of his business is handled over the servers it runs in Dallas and the United States accounts for about 27 percent of his global business. -McClatchy
BuzzFeed has argued that it was justified in publishing the dossier since it had already been circulating among government officials and members of the press for several months prior to publication. They also point to a disclaimer which accompanied the dossier that its allegations had not been corroborated.
Earlier this month, Gubarev's attorney said “This is a complete and utter vindication of our clients,” said Val Gurvits, another Gubarev attorney.
Fray-Witzer added in a statement: "When Ben Smith and BuzzFeed decided to publish the Dossier, they knew that they had been unable to verify any of the allegations in it," adding "They knew that falsely accusing people of serious criminal activity could ruin lives, but they decided that getting traffic to their website was more important than the truth. It was all about clicks and dollars for them. Nothing else mattered."