Kramer also provided ongoing updates to Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, former MI6 spy and dossier author Christopher Steele, and other members of the media regarding McCain’s meeting with FBI Director James Comey.
Steele had been hired by Simpson on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to produce the so-called Steele dossier on Trump.
- ABC News: Brian Ross, Matt Mosk
- BuzzFeed: Ken Bensinger
- CNN: Carl Bernstein
- The Guardian: Julian Borger
- McClatchy: Peter Stone, Greg Gordon
- Mother Jones: David Corn
- NPR: Bob Little, Rachel Martin
- The Washington Post: Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman, Fred Hiatt
- The Wall Street Journal: Alan Cullison
McCain Meets Sir Andrew WoodKramer said he was initially approached about the Steele dossier on Nov. 19, 2016, by Sir Andrew Wood, the former British ambassador to Russia, during a meeting at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Kramer said that Wood told him that “he was aware of information that he thought I should be aware of and that Senator McCain might be interested in.” McCain, Wood, and Kramer would meet later that afternoon, on Nov. 19, 2016, in a private meeting room at the Halifax conference.
Wood told both Kramer and McCain that “he was aware of this information that had been gathered that raised the possibility of collusion and compromising material on the president-elect. And he explained that he knew the person who gathered the information and felt that the person was of the utmost credibility.”
Kramer ascribed the word “collusion” three times to Wood in his deposition.
Wood also mentioned that there was the possibility of a video “of a sexual nature” that might have “shown the president-elect in a compromising situation.” According to Kramer, Wood said that “if it existed, that it was from a hotel in Moscow when president-elect, before he was president-elect, had been in Moscow.”
No such video was ever uncovered or given to Kramer.
Kramer testified that following the description of the video, “the senator turned to me and asked if I would go to London to meet with what turned out to be Mr. Steele.”
Kramer traveled to London to meet with Steele on Nov. 28, 2016. Kramer reviewed all the memos during his meeting with Steele but wasn't provided with a physical copy of the dossier.
In response to a question regarding Steele’s sources, Kramer noted that “there was a piece of paper in which the names were there.” Kramer testified that he recognized some of the names on the paper that Steele purported to be his sources:
The matter of sources was returned to later in Kramer’s deposition, when he indicated that at least one of the names was a “serious, high-level source.”
In regard to the name that Kramer knew, he noted, “If that person was a source, it was a serious high-level source.” Under further questioning, Kramer noted, “Two of the other names also seemed to be serious if they were, in fact, the sources.”
Kramer’s familiarity with the names of Steele’s alleged sources is of some interest. Although the dossier has been largely discredited, the fact that Kramer recognized these alleged sources indicates they were likely fairly well-known names. The identities of these alleged sources haven't been publicly reported.
Notably, these sources were second- and third-hand, as both Steele and Kramer testified that there was an intermediary between Steele and these sources.
Kramer noted that Steele told him that the information in the dossier “needed to be corroborated and verified.” According to Kramer, Steele said he “did not feel that he was in a position to vouch for everything that was produced in this.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Kramer said, Steele told him that “he would arrange for Glenn Simpson to get me a copy of the material upon my return to Washington.”
When Kramer returned to Washington, he was provided with a copy of the dossier—which, at that point, consisted of 16 memos—at a meeting with Simpson on Nov. 29, 2016. Kramer also testified that there was another individual, “a male,” present at the meeting.
Interestingly, Kramer testified that Simpson gave him two copies of the dossier, noting that Simpson told him that “one had more things blacked out than the other.” Kramer said, “It wasn't entirely clear to me why there were two versions of this, so but I took both versions.”
Kramer noted that Simpson, who was aware the dossier was being given to McCain, said the dossier “was a very sensitive document and needed to be handled very carefully.”
Despite that warning, Kramer showed the dossier to a number of journalists and had discussions with at least 14 members of the media, along with some individuals in the U.S. government.
Kramer testified that he gave a physical copy of the dossier to reporters Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy; to Fred Hiatt, the editor of the Washington Post editorial page; Alan Cullison of The Wall Street Journal; Bob Little at NPR; Carl Bernstein at CNN; and finally, Ken Bensinger at BuzzFeed. It’s possible that Kramer gave copies to other reporters mentioned as well; his deposition is somewhat vague in respect to differentiating between where Kramer only discussed the dossier and where he gave copies out.
Kramer said that Simpson and Steele were aware of most of these contacts, but that Kramer hadn't told either of them that he gave the dossier to NPR. He also noted that Steele had been in contact with Bernstein at CNN and that the CNN and BuzzFeed meetings occurred at Steele’s request. Steele told Kramer that he and Bensinger “had been in touch during the FIFA investigation; they got to know each other that way.”
According to Kramer, he didn't believe that Fusion GPS and Simpson were aware of these two meetings with CNN and BuzzFeed.
McCain–Comey MeetingKramer said that he wasn't aware of the content of McCain’s Dec. 9 discussion with Comey, noting that he “did not get any readout from the senator on the meeting, but just that it had happened.”
Kramer did, however, provide updates to both Steele and Simpson regarding the status of McCain’s meeting with Comey, in subsequent discussions with Simpson and Steele:
“It was mostly just to inform him about whether or not the senator had transfer -- transmitted the document to the FBI. Both he and Mr. Steele were -- I kept them apprised of whether the senator was -- where the senator was in terms of his contact with the FBI.”
The implications of this statement are significant. Kramer, a private citizen, was providing updates to a former British spy as to what a sitting senator was saying to the director of the FBI.
Meeting With State DepartmentSeveral days after McCain, Brose, and Kramer met to discuss the dossier, Kramer said that McCain instructed him to meet with Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, and Russian Affairs Director Celeste Wallander.
The purpose of the meeting was to verify whether the dossier “was being taken seriously.” Both Nuland and Wallander were previously aware of the dossier’s existence, and both officials previously knew Steele, whom “they believed to be credible.” Kramer said he didn’t physically share the dossier with them at this point, but met again with Wallander, a National Security Council member, “around New Years” and “gave her a copy of the document”
BuzzFeed Obtains DossierKramer showed a copy of the dossier to Bensinger on Dec. 29, 2016, during a meeting at the McCain Institute, which, according to Kramer, “was closed for the holidays during that whole week.”
There is apparently some dispute as to how Benzinger obtained physical possession of the dossier. A footnote within the court document notes there is disagreement between Kramer and Bensinger about whether “Kramer gave Bensinger a copy or whether Bensinger took photos of the dossier when Kramer was not looking.”
According to Kramer, he testified that Bensinger “said he wanted to read them, he asked me if he could take photos of them on his—I assume it was an iPhone. I asked him not to. He said he was a slow reader, he wanted to read it. And so I said, you know, I got a phone call to make, and I had to go to the bathroom…” Kramer said that he “left him to read it for 20, 30 minutes.”
Kramer also testified that he gave a final copy of the dossier to two other people in early January 2017—Kinzinger and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s chief of staff Burks. In regard to Kinzinger, Kramer noted, “I felt I could trust him. ... I really got to know him at the Halifax meeting. ... He strikes me as a very serious and honorable person, and I felt that someone on that side of Congress should be aware.”
Dossier Goes PublicThe Intelligence Community Assessment on alleged Russian hacking was released internally on Jan. 5, 2017.
“Media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook. I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the FBI has the material.”
“The Committee’s investigation revealed that President-elect Trump was indeed briefed on the contents of the Steele dossier and when questioned by the Committee, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted that he confirmed the existence of the dossier to the media.”
Additionally, the House Intelligence Report shows Clapper appears to have been the direct source for CNN’s Tapper and his Jan. 10 story, which disclosed the existence of the dossier:
“When initially asked about leaks related to the ICA in July 2017, former DNI Clapper flatly denied ‘discuss[ing] the dossier [compiled by Steele] or any other intelligence related to Russia hacking of the 2016 election with journalists.’ Clapper subsequently acknowledged discussing the ‘dossier with CNN journalist Jake Tapper,’ and admitted that he might have spoken with other journalists about the same topic.”
“Clapper’s discussion with Tapper took place in early January 2017, around the time IC leaders briefed President Obama and President-elect Trump, on ‘the Christopher Steele information,’ a two-page summary of which was ‘enclosed in’ the highly-classified version of the ICA.”