Dossier fig­ure con­sid­ers law­suit against Buz­zFeed

Co­hen pass­port shows he was never in Prague

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

Michael D. Co­hen, Pres­i­dent Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney, says he has in­structed his own at­tor­ney to in­ves­ti­gate le­gal ac­tion against Buz­zFeed, which posted an op­po­si­tion re­search “dossier” that ac­cused Mr. Co­hen with­out proof of a con­spir­acy with Rus­sian agents.

Mr. Co­hen told The Washington Times that he also is con­sid­er­ing a law­suit against for­mer Bri­tish spy Christopher Steele, who wrote the gos­sipy 35-page dossier that the lib­eral news web­site posted on Jan. 10.

Mr. Steele was paid by a Hil­lary Clin­ton sup­porter, via the Demo­cratic Party-linked firm Fu­sion GPS, to gather dirt on can­di­date Trump last sum­mer and fall. GPS cir­cu­lated the Steele memos to reporters and Democrats.

But it was not un­til Buz­zFeed posted the dossier that some peo­ple named in it learned that they were ac­cused of wrong­do­ing.

In Mr. Co­hen’s case, Mr. Steele ac­cused him of trav­el­ing to Prague in the last week of Au­gust to meet with Rus­sian agents to de­vise a plan to cover up the sup­posed Trump-Russia hack­ing of Demo­cratic Party email servers.

Mr. Co­hen, the at­tor­ney for the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion for 10 years and now the pres­i­dent’s per­sonal lawyer, im­me­di­ately de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tion in Jan­uary. He showed his pass­port to the pres­i­dent, his close aides and reporters to prove he had never been to Prague. He also shared his itin­er­ary for a trip he took to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia at the time Mr. Steele said he was in the cap­i­tal of the Czech Repub­lic.

Mr. Co­hen is not alone in chal­leng­ing Mr. Steele. Alek­sej Gubarev, CEO of net­work so­lu­tions firm XBT Hold­ing, is su­ing for defama­tion. The dossier said he ran a hack­ing op­er­a­tion to flood Demo­cratic com­puter net­works with porn and bug­ging de­vices.

Mr. Gubarev, a tech en­tre­pre­neur, called the charges “one

of the most reck­less and ir­re­spon­si­ble mo­ments in mod­ern ‘jour­nal­ism,’” ac­cord­ing his li­bel law­suit, which was filed in Florida state court.

Buz­zFeed Ed­i­tor Ben Smith said he doubted the dossier was true at the time it was posted. His news site re­sponded to the law­suit by apol­o­giz­ing and strik­ing Mr. Gubarev’s name from its web­site dossier, but the pages al­ready had been copied and widely cir­cu­lated.

Mr. Co­hen’s name remains unredacted. The charges against him con­tinue to swirl in so­cial me­dia even though he has shown that the Prague meet­ing could not have taken place.

In a state­ment to The Washington Times, Mr. Co­hen said: “I be­lieve the en­tire dossier to be in­ac­cu­rate, and worse, com­pletely fab­ri­cated. I ap­plaud Alek­sej Gubarev in bring­ing le­gal ac­tion against both Christopher Steele and Buz­zFeed for cre­at­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing this fake dossier/in­for­ma­tion with­out a scin­tilla of fact check­ing. I am cur­rently in dis­cus­sions with for­eign and do­mes­tic coun­sel to file sim­i­lar ac­tions.”

The Steele dossier men­tions Mr. Co­hen more than a dozen times but on just one topic: his sup­posed trip to Prague to meet with Rus­sians and cover up the sup­posed Russia-Trump hack­ing.

“The agenda com­prised ques­tions on how de­ni­able cash pay­ments were to be made to hack­ers who had worked in Europe un­der Krem­lin di­rec­tion against the Clin­ton cam­paign and var­i­ous con­tin­gen­cies for cov­er­ing up these op­er­a­tions and Moscow’s se­cret li­ai­son with the Trump team more gen­er­ally,” Mr. Steele wrote.

His fi­nal memo in De­cem­ber stated: “In Prague, Co­hen agreed [to] con­tin­gency plans for var­i­ous sce­nar­ios to protect the op­er­a­tions, but in par­tic­u­lar what was to be done in the event that Hil­lary Clin­ton won the pres­i­dency. It was im­por­tant in this even that all cash pay­ments owed were made quickly and dis­creetly and that a cy­ber … and other op­er­a­tors were stood down/able to go ef­fec­tively to ground to cover their traces.”

Again, Mr. Co­hen said this ac­count by Mr. Steele is fic­tion. He never at­tended such a meet­ing.

If Mr. Co­hen fol­lows through with a law­suit, he would be fol­low­ing a path paved by Mr. Gubarev in Fe­bru­ary in Florida state court against Buz­zFeed and Mr. Smith, and in a London court against Mr. Steele and his Or­bis Busi­ness In­tel­li­gence.

XBT, which op­er­ates more than 37,000 com­puter servers glob­ally, has an of­fice in Florida, where its web devel­op­ment com­pany We­bzilla is in­cor­po­rated.

Mr. Steele wrote that Mr. Gubarev, 36, who left Russia in 2002 to live in Cyprus and launch tech com­pa­nies, was re­cruited “un­der duress” by the FSB, Russia’s fol­low-on to the Soviet KGB spy ser­vice, to hack Democrats’ com­put­ers with “bot­nets and porn traf­fic to trans­mit viruses, plant bugs, steal data.”

Mr. Gur­barev’s law­suit, filed by Bos­ton at­tor­ney Evan Fray-Witzer and Fort Laud­erdale, Florida, at­tor­ney Brady J. Cobb, says the Steele nar­ra­tive is “wholly and com­pletely false.”

“Although Buz­zFeed and Smith specif­i­cally knew that at least por­tions of the dossier were un­true, they printed the en­tire doc­u­ment — with­out mean­ing­ful redac­tions — in­clud­ing those por­tions that falsely ac­cused the Plain­tiffs of par­tic­i­pat­ing in an al­leged con­spir­acy to com­mit crimes against the Demo­cratic Lead­er­ship, not to men­tion a con­spir­acy to un­der­mine Amer­i­can Democ­racy and the 2016 elec­tion,” the ac­tion states.

“Buz­zFeed and Smith pub­lished these al­le­ga­tions with­out hav­ing even taken the most ba­sic step of con­tact­ing the Plain­tiffs to ask if the al­le­ga­tions had any merit,” it says. “As a re­sult of Buz­zFeed and Mr. Smith’s reck­less pub­li­ca­tion of defam­a­tory ma­te­ri­als, he has found his per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rep­u­ta­tion in tat­ters.”

Mr. Steele wrote that Mr. Gubarev used a hacker by the name of Seva Kap­sug­ovich.

Mr. Gubarev says he doesn’t know and has never met Kap­sug­ovich. McClatchy News re­ported that Kap­sug­ovich is a twice-con­victed pe­dophile who has been im­pris­oned in Russia in a fa­cil­ity where he has no ac­cess to the in­ter­net or cell­phones.

The law­suit says Mr. Smith as­signed four reporters to the dossier to try to prove or dis­prove it, yet none of them con­tacted Mr. Gubarev.

The law­suit against Mr. Steele was filed in London by the in­ter­na­tional law firm McDer­mott Will & Emery. It says the dossier caused Mr. Gubarev to lose clients all across Europe and that Mr. Steele made no ef­fort to con­tact Mr. Gubarev.

“It has caused [Mr. Gubarev] se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial loss and is likely to do so in the fu­ture,” the law­suit says.

Mr. Steele gave in­ter­views to jour­nal­ists whom he tried to per­suade to pro­duce sto­ries about his dossier, the law­suit says.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Christopher Steele says in his dossier that Michael D. Co­hen con­spired in a cover-up of Russia-Trump hack­ing.

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