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Court files reveal role of McCain, aide in spreading anti-Trump dossier

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Court files reveal role of McCain, aide in spreading anti-Trump dossier

Newly unsealed court filings show the office of the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shared with the FBI and a host of media outlets the unverified dossier that alleged the Russians had compromising information on now-President Trump.

McCain had denied being the source for BuzzFeed after it published the dossier, which was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, but had acknowledged giving it to the FBI.

RUSSIAN TECH FIRM USED IN HACKING OF DEMOCRATS, MCCAIN’S ASSOCIATE DISSEMINATED STEELE DOSSIER, UNSEALED DOCUMENTS 

In a newly unsealed declaration from September, former senior counterintelligence FBI agent Bill Priestap confirmed that the FBI received a copy of the first 33 pages of the dossier in December 2016 from McCain.

In another filing, David Kramer — a former State Department official and McCain associate — said in a Dec. 13, 2017, deposition that the dossier was given to him by author and former British spy Christopher Steele, which he then provided to more than a dozen journalists at outlets including CNN, BuzzFeed and The Washington Post. The details were first reported by The Daily Caller.

The report was also shared with State Department official Victoria Nuland, Obama National Security Council official Celeste Wallander and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.

The filings were unsealed as part of an ongoing libel case against BuzzFeed by a Russian businessman.

In that deposition, Kramer said that McCain gave a copy of the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey on Dec. 9. Kramer told investigators that it was the sense from Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson that “having Senator McCain provide it to the FBI would give it a little more oomph than it had had up until that point.”

MCCAIN ASSOCIATED SHARED UNVERIFIED STEELE DOSSIER WITH BUZZFEED, COURT FILING SAYS

“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,” he said.

Kramer also described how BuzzFeed News reporter Ken Bensinger came to get hold of the dossier, before the outlet became the first to publish it in its entirety.

INSIDE THE TRUMP DOSSIER HANDOFF

He said that he showed Bensinger the dossier in December at the McCain Institute, but did not allow him to take pictures of it. But Kramer said he left Bensinger alone to read the memos and, in that time, Bensinger took photos of the dossier.

Kramer said he panicked when he saw that BuzzFeed News had published the document in its entirety online on Jan. 10, and immediately sought to have it taken down.

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“I called Mr. Bensinger, and my first words out of my mouth were ‘you are gonna get people killed,’” he said.

The FBI extensively relied on the dossier in its warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court in seeking to surveil Trump aide Carter Page — even though some of the dossier’s claims have been called into question, including a claim that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to pay off Russian hackers and other more salacious claims about Trump himself.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Lukas Mikelionis and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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Trump says he does not mind if public sees Mueller’s Russia probe report

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Trump says he does not mind if public sees Mueller's Russia probe report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“Let it come out, let people see it, that’s up to the attorney general … and we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We’ll see if it’s fair,” he added.

Mueller is preparing to submit a report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on his findings, including Russia’s role in the election and whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied interfering in the election.

Barr already is coming under pressure from lawmakers to make the entire document public quickly, though he has wide latitude in what to release.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 420-0 last week on a non-binding resolution calling for Mueller’s report to be released both to Congress and to the public, but it is not clear how the measure will fare in the Senate.

Asked if the public should be allowed to see the report, Trump said: “I don’t mind.” He said he had no idea when it would be released.

As he has before, Trump questioned the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation.

“I had the greatest electoral victory – one of them – in the history of our country, tremendous success, tens of millions of voters and now somebody’s going to write a report who never got a vote,” he said.

Mueller was appointed to handle the Russia investigation in May 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the effort. Mueller has previously held several senior positions in the Justice Department, including FBI Director.

Reporting by Steve Holland; writing by David Alexander and Andy Sullivan; editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis

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Clarence Thomas makes rare intervention during Supreme Court arguments

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Clarence Thomas makes rare intervention during Supreme Court arguments

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas surprised court watchers on Wednesday when he made a rare intervention in court arguments — asking a question in a case where a death row inmate is challenging his conviction and sentence.

Thomas, who is the only African-American and the only Southerner on the court, asked his rare question toward the end of arguments in a case involving a black Mississippi death row inmate, Curtis Flowers, who was tried six different times for the 1996 murders of four people in a furniture store.

CLARENCE THOMAS BACKS TRUMP’S CALL FOR CHANGING DEFAMATION LAW TO EASE SUITS AGAINST MEDIA

Flowers’ lawyers claims a white prosecutor had a history of impermissibly using jury strikes to exclude African-Americans from the jury.

The Associated Press reported that a clear majority of the court appeared “troubled” by the actions of the prosecutor — District Attorney Doug Evans — in the prosecution of Flowers.

Thomas asked if Flowers’ lawyers in the case had made similar decisions, and the race of any struck jurors. Lawyer Sheri Lynn Johnson said three white jurors were excused by Flowers’ lawyer.

According to The Washington Post, two of Flowers’ trials were hung, and convictions in three others were overturned because of misconduct by Evans.

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But the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his 2010 conviction, despite Evans striking five of six black jurors, arguing that Evans had race-neutral reasons for the strikes.

Thomas’ last questions in a case  were in 2016, and that was his first intervention in a decade. He has said previously that he relies on the written briefs and believes his colleagues interrupt too much.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump says he doesn’t mind if public sees Mueller’s Russia probe report

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Trump says he doesn't mind if public sees Mueller's Russia probe report

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

Mueller is expected to send his report to Attorney General William Barr soon.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann

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