02:34 GMT25 January 2021
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    An American court has ruled that Christopher Steele, the retired MI6 agent who compiled the infamous Trump-Russia “Golden Showers” dossier that was published by Buzzfeed in January, could be questioned by the lawyers of Russian billionaire Aleksej Gubarev, who is suing Steele for defamation.

    The bizarre story began on January 10, when Buzzfeed published a 35-page dossier full of scandalous, incendiary and almost-entirely unverified accusations regarding Trump's relationship with Russian government and business leaders. Buzzfeed themselves admitted that the dossier included "clear errors," but that didn't stop them from publishing it.

    Aside from the most notorious section (Trump traveled to Moscow to watch Russian sex workers urinate on a bed for his own sexual gratification), the dossier also alleged that Russia had bought Trump years ago and that Russian hackers colluded with the Trump campaign to discredit Trump's political rival Hillary Clinton.

    But the part of the dossier that proved most troublesome ended up being a section claiming that Aleksej Gubarev, founder and CEO of web-hosting company Webzilla, had assisted in hacking on behalf of the Russian intelligence agency FSB. Gubarev slapped Buzzfeed and Steele with defamation of character lawsuits, demanding that Steele testify about the dossier during the Buzzfeed lawsuit.

    Steele has resisted the lawsuit: as a British citizen, he is being sued in his native UK, while Buzzfeed (an American company) is being sued in an American court. "The deposition sought [by Gubarev] is impermissible and unlawful on multiple grounds, not the least of which is that [Gubarev has] a direct defamation action pending against Mr. Steele in the United Kingdom in which the requested deposition is strictly prohibited," wrote Steele's lawyers in a motion filed on August 10.

    Judge Ursula Ungaro of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida threw out Steele's motion, ruling that Gubarev's lawyers may now ask permission from the UK government to question Steele on who funded and sourced the dossier.

    During an interview with ABC News, one of Gubarev's attorneys denied the allegation that Moscow is using the lawsuit to suss out Steele's sources. "We are acting on behalf of a businessman who has less ties, frankly, with Russia than he does with the United States. Forty percent of his business comes from the US. This is not a relationship that a sane person would ever mess with," said attorney Valentin Gurvits.

    The CEO of Fusion GPS, a DC-based strategic intelligence firm that oversaw the compilation of the dossier, has been called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding who hired his company to investigate alleged ties between Trump and Russia. 

    Meanwhile, the UK investigation has yielded that individuals in both the Republican and Democratic party were likely to have helped to fund the research behind the dossier.


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    testimony, Golden Showers, defamation, lawsuit, Buzzfeed, Webzilla, Fusion GPS, Aleksej Gubarev, Christopher Steele, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, DC
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