McCain aide took the Fifth Amendment on role in Steele dossier
More threads are unraveling in what may be the biggest political scandal in history: the use of intelligence agencies to spy on a rival-party presidential campaign and then unseat a duly elected president. The blowback from the Steele dossier, the multi-million-dollar operation of the Hillary campaign and the DNC, may reach all the way to Trump-haters in the GOP.
The Steele dossier scandal's tentacles are reaching all the way to Trumpophobic John McCain, via a close associate of his. The longtime aide to Senator McCain who flew to England to get a copy of the Steele dossier and speed it along to the FBI in 2016 has clammed up and asserted his right to avoid self-incrimination.
Catherine Herridge reports for Fox News:
A former State Department official and associate of Sen. John McCain has invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in connection with questions from the House Intelligence Committee about the anti-Trump dossier's Russian sources, according to a law enforcement source.
David J. Kramer, who is a central player in how the unverified Trump dossier made its way to the FBI in late 2016, testified before the committee in December in a closed-door session, indicating he had information about the dossier's sources. A subpoena was issued for mid-January, as first reported by The Washington Examiner.
The law enforcement source confirmed, however, that Kramer did not appear and has exercised his Fifth Amendment rights.
David Kramer greets Sen. Tim Kaine at the Halifax International Security Forum in November 2016. (Halifax International Security Forum.)
Kramer has already spoken under oath about the dossier, however. This could present an obstacle to exercise of the Fifth Amendment.
Yet Kramer gave a videotaped deposition last December in separate civil litigation against BuzzFeed about the dossier and his contact with the former British spy who compiled it, Christopher Steele. Steele was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS to write and research the dossier, with funding from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign.
According to British court records obtained by Fox News as part of its ongoing investigation of the Trump dossier, Kramer was personally briefed in late November 2016 by Steele in Surrey, England. After that briefing, Steele told the British court that an arrangement was made so that Fusion GPS – co-founded by Glenn Simpson – would provide hard copies of the dossier to McCain via Kramer. Shortly afterward, the dossier was given to the FBI, which already had its own copy from Steele.
Information on the sources for the Steele dossier could well point to Russian intelligence. This could mean that those who facilitated the use of the dossier to harm President Trump during the election and afterward to generate the Mueller probe were at best dupes and at worst conspirators with the Russian intelligence operatives. It is the sort of thing that ought to attract investigation from a politically unbiased special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. (Cough!)
In a court of law, no inference of criminality is permitted by members of the jury, but in the court of public opinion, we are allowed to say this stinks to high heaven.
David J. Kramer currently is housed at Arizona State University, where he is affiliated senior fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership. The longtime associate of Senator John McCain doesn't have to worry about his career after the senator leaves office, it would seem. Presumably, the McCain operative is funded by tax-exempt donations to the McCain Institute. I wonder who its funders are.