Fusion tried to avoid testifying about the Steele dossier it was pushing during and after 2016 campaign

Rowan Scarborough:
Fusion GPS, the impresario of the infamous Christopher Steele dossier, must undergo a deposition in a libel suit brought by a Russian entrepreneur, a federal judge ruled this week.

Judge Ursula Ungaro also ordered Fusion, a Washington investigative firm, to turn over written communications with Mr. Steele, who accused the Trump campaign of an “extensive conspiracy” yet to be proven publicly.

Aleksej Gubarev is suing the news site BuzzFeed in U.S. District Court in Miami for publishing the dossier’s final December 2016 memo. Mr. Steele accused him of hacking into Democratic Party computers at the behest of Moscow intelligence.

The Cyprus-based developer of Webzilla computer servers has denied the charge ever since the January 2017 web posting and says it damaged his global businesses.

Fusion, which paid Mr. Steele with money from the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic Party, fought in court to avoid being questioned by Mr. Gubarev’s attorneys. Fusion lawyers cited the First Amendment and invasion of privacy into the investigator’s business practices and confidential clients.

But Judge Ungaro rejected just about all of those arguments, meaning a Fusion representatives from its roster of former Wall Street Journal journalists will have to give testimony under oath. Fusion isn’t a defendant.

Mr. Gubarev’s lawyers will be allowed to ask about the hiring arrangement between Fusion and the Democrats and subsequently how Fusion contracted with Mr. Steele, a former British spy. Fusion will also be questioned on any communications with BuzzFeed and editor in chief Ben Smith.

“The circumstances of the preparation of the December memo are highly relevant to the truth or falsity of the statements that are at the heart of this case,” Judge Ungaro’s ruling said.

Gubarev can also ask Fusion about all the steps it and Mr. Steele took to obtain dossier information, but can not ask the identify of his Kremlin sources.

Fusion must also turn over its electronic communication with Mr. Steele, with sources redacted.
It is somewhat surprising that Fusion is not a defendant in the case.  It is also strange that they would be allowed to redact the sources for the unverified material  I would think a plaintiff would want evidence of what was done to verify any allegations against him or his business.

Other stories about the BuzzFeed copy of the dossier indicate that it is similar to the version that John McCain received and had delivered to the FBI.  I would think the plaintiff would want to track the chain of custody of that document to see if there were other possible defendants.


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