A trio of Russian businessmen named in British Christopher Steele’s salacious ‘Trump-Russia’ dossier have lost their appeal in their long-running defamation lawsuit against the ex-MI6 operative.
A three-judge panel in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals upheld the August 2018 dismissal of their case by the DC Superior Court, issuing a 41-page opinion against the arguments brought by Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan, against Steele’s firm Orbis Business Intelligence, calling them “unpersuasive”.
— File411 (@File411) June 18, 2020
The dossier, which repeatedly misspells Alfa as “Alpha” for reasons unclear, claimed a “top level Russian official confirms current closeness of Alpha Group - Putin relationship” and “significant favors continue to be done in both directions” with “Fridman and Even still giving informal advice to Putin, especially on the US”. The document also a “Russian government figure” reported Fridman, Even, and Khan “had their ups and downs” but were “currently on very good terms with Putin”.
The three businessmen deny the claims, and argued in court the dossier contained “facially defamatory statements” and Steele and his company “did not know the unverified, anonymous, inherently harmful accusations…about [them] to be true” when the allegations were “intentionally” published.
“According to the allegations in the complaint, Steele and his company were hired to conduct opposition research about candidate Trump and his presidential campaign. Perhaps it is fair to infer that Steele was biased against Mr. Trump, whom Steele had been hired by political opponents to investigate and ‘publicly discredit.’ However, this motivation would not necessarily extend to appellants, who were not the ‘target’ of Steele’s research and investigation,” the court ruled.
— Tracy Beanz (@tracybeanz) June 14, 2020
In March, Steele testified to a British court he met with Michael Sussman and Marc Elias, of the Perkins Coie law firm, which represented Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee in July 2016, Sussman providing him with claims about Alfa Bank’s purported ties to Putin. Those allegations were noted in a resultant memo, that became part of the dossier, in September that year. Shortly thereafter, Steele met with Elias, the general counsel for Clinton’s campaign who personally hired research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016. Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson hired Steele in June 2016. He later shared claims that the Alfa Bank server was a mode of communication for Trump-Russia collusion with US government officials.
— La Cosa Jostra (@codyave) June 15, 2020
In December, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuses by the DoJ and FBI highlighted at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” in the applications the bodies filed to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2016 and 2017, including the Bureau’s reliance on Steele’s dubious dossier.
Declassified footnotes furthermore show the FBI was aware Steele’s source network may have been compromised by Russian intelligence, and his credibility was doubted at the highest levels of the agency. Horowitz also dismissed the Alfa Bank Trump-Russia collusion claims in his report, which stated the FBI investigated whether there were “cyber links” between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization, but had concluded by early February 2017 that there were no such links.”