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    Lawsuit Against BuzzFeed Over Trump Dossier Goes to Federal Court

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    Cassandra Fairbanks
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    A defamation lawsuit brought against BuzzFeed by a tech mogul named in the infamous, and as-yet unsubstantiated “golden showers” dossier, has been moved to federal court.

    Aleksej Gubarev, the CEO of XBT, a webhosting company, had initially brought the case in a local Florida court, but it was moved to the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami on Tuesday, at the request of BuzzFeed.

    The move extends the time BuzzFeed has to respond, originally set for February 28. They now have until March 24.

    BuzzFeed has apologized to Gubarev, and has since redacted his name from the documents, which many have asserted are fake.

    "The damages Mr. Gubarev now claims are absurd and disproportionate. We are pleased a judge has agreed to our request to move this to federal court, where we look forward to resolving this matter quickly,” BuzzFeed Communications Director Matt Mittenthal told McClatchy.

    Gubarev has filed two suits over the website’s publication of the 35-page dossier, which was later revealed to have been partially compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. One lawsuit filed in the US names Buzzfeed, the other was filed in the United Kingdom against Steele.

    Steele had originally been hired to investigate Trump by ‘political opponents’ within the Democratic and Republican parties, but it has not been revealed who hired him. He then decided to share the dossier with the FBI, who took it seriously, despite the far-fetched allegations, due to his previous work on the FIFA case.

    The dossier accused Gubarev and his companies of being “instrumental” in hacking the Democratic Party, which led to party emails being leaked by Wikileaks during Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Steele claimed in the documents that Gubarev was coerced into assisting the hacking by Russian spies who had compromising information on him.

    Gubarev has denied the allegations. His attorney, Val Gurvits, has confirmed that law enforcement never contacted his client about any of the allegations made in the dossier.

    "I'm willing to do any investigation. Come to my office. Do what you want. Check all my servers," Gubarev told CNN Money.

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    The allegations in the report have been dismissed by both Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even Buzzfeed, who initially published the report, noted discrepancies, acknowledging that nothing in the dossier could be confirmed.

    Shortly after BuzzFeed’s release, Trump referred to the report as a “political witch hunt” and “phony, fake news.” 

    The report included multiple claims that are questionable at best, and arguably slanderous at worst. For example, the report alleges that a top lawyer in the Trump Organization, Michael Cohen, met with Russian officials in Prague who were involved in the hacks on the Democratic National Committee. Cohen has never been to Prague, and shared his passport as proof.

    The dossier also claims that there was video of a urine party, hosted by Trump, and filmed by Russian intelligence agencies, although there is no evidence to support that any such recording exists.

    “Trump‘s (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs. Obama (who he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to,” the report claimed.

    Following the release of the report, many journalists confirmed that they, too, had been offered the story, but had declined as they could not confirm its validity.

    The US Senate Intelligence Committee is reportedly weighing options to seek testimony from Steele.

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    Tags:
    XBT, BuzzFeed, Matt Mittenthal, Christopher Steele, Donald Trump, Aleksej Gubarev
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