Chuck Ross on December 19, 2018
- A federal judge on Wednesday revealed just how widely Christopher Steele distributed his infamous anti-Trump dossier.
- Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Paul Ryan chief of staff Jonathan Burks received Steele’s reports in December 2016, before BuzzFeed would publish the dossier in full.
- Court documents say that Steele gave the dossier materials to Kinzinger and Burks, though Paul Ryan’s office claims that Burks has never met Steele and did not receive documents directly from the former British spy.
A Republican lawmaker and the chief of staff to House Speaker Paul Ryan were early recipients of the infamous Steele dossier, according to a court memo released Wednesday as part of BuzzFeed’s dossier-related lawsuit.
The judge handling the case filed a document that stated that Christopher Steele, the dossier author, provided at least one memo from the dossier to Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Jonathan Burks, a longtime Ryan aide.
“Steele gave Report 166 to Kramer, an unnamed senior British security official, Ms. Wallender [sic] at the NSC, Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Chief of Staff, John Burks,” wrote Judge Ursula Ungaro, who ruled in favor of BuzzFeed in a defamation lawsuit filed by a Russian businessmen identified in Report 166, which Steele produced on Dec. 13, 2016.
That report, which is one of 17 written by Steele, accused Russian businessman Aleksej Gubarev of using his companies to hack Democrats’ computer systems during the 2016 campaign. Gubarev vehemently denied the allegations and sued BuzzFeed for defamation, claiming that the website failed to investigate Steele’s claims.
Ungaro noted in her filing Wednesday that BuzzFeed did not reach out to Gubarev prior to its publication of the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017. The website apologized to Gubarev and redacted his name from its report after the Russian sued.
The Kramer referred to in Ungaro’s memo is David Kramer, a former State Department official and longtime associate of late Sen. John McCain, who provided a copy of the dossier to BuzzFeed. Wallander is Celeste Wallander, the Obama National Security Council’s top official on Russia-related matters.
Though Ungaro wrote that Steele provided Burks and the others with parts of the dossier, a spokeswoman for Ryan’s office said that Burks never met Steele and did not receive information directly from the former British spy.
“Burks has never met Christopher Steele nor received any document directly from him. However, he was aware of and had read the dossier prior to its publication,” AshLee Strong told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
She did not respond to follow-up questions about how Burks obtained the report, whether he disseminated it, and whether Ryan knew he had received the document.
Kinzinger’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Ungaro’s filing shows just how widely the dossier was disseminated prior to BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the document.
It was not previously publicly known that Steele gave his reports to Wallander. It was also not known, as Ungaro revealed, that Kramer shared the dossier with numerous reporters, in addition to BuzzFeed, and Obama State Department official Victoria Nuland.
Gubarev’s legal actions also led to revelations that Steele and the firm that hired him, Fusion GPS, met with numerous reporters during the 2016 campaign. Steele was forced to reveal in London, where he is being sued by Gubarev, that he and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson briefed reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Yahoo News and Mother Jones.
Yahoo! and Mother Jones published articles based on Steele’s unverified information prior to the election.