Attorneys for a Russian entrepreneur say they have discovered the source who provided BuzzFeed with the infamous Trump dossier whose unverified charges were embraced by the FBI.
They are not disclosing the identity for now.
BuzzFeed took the momentous step on Jan. 10, 2017, of posting the entire 35 pages, including salacious charges about President Trump and “golden showers” in a Moscow hotel. The posting propelled a document seen only by Washington insiders into worldwide public exposure
Aleksej Gubarev, chief of XBT holdings and its Webzilla web hosting firm, is suing BuzzFeed for libel in U.S. District Court in Florida.
The dossier, orchestrated by Democrats and the firm Fusion GPS and written by former British spy Christopher Steele, accused Mr. Gubarev of hacking Democratic Party computers under pressure from Russian intelligence.
As part of pre-trial discovery, Mr. Gubarev’s attorneys had asked a judge to compel BuzzFeed to name its source.
All Trump people accused in the dossier have denied the charges of Russian collusion and have labeled the document fiction.
Fusion, which passed around the dossier or its information to Washington reporters and politicians, has denied it was BuzzFeed’s source. In another case, Fusion is being sued for libel by three Russian oligarch bankers. The dossier accused the Alfa Bank investors of paying bribes to President Vladimir Putin and implied they were involved in Russian election interference.
Val Gurvits, one of Mr. Gubarev’s attorneys, told The Washington Times on Friday that he now knows the BuzzFeed source.
“I unfortunately cannot give you any details because that information has been designated as confidential attorneys eyes only for the moment,” said Mr. Gurvits, who heads Boston Law Group.
Two new developments in the case happened at about the same time.
A judge ruled on Thursday against compelling BuzzFeed to produce its source.
The Gubarev team responded by saying it already knew the name.
“Because we obtained the information about BuzzFeed’s source from the source itself, we were in the process of withdrawing our motion to compel BuzzFeed to reveal their source,” said Charles Dolan, a spokesman for Mr. Gubarev. “Before we had the chance to file our withdrawal, the judge in Miami issued an order denying our motion to compel. His reasoning was that we did not yet exhaust all other possible ways to get the information. BuzzFeed is trying to use this ruling as a positive development, which it is not.”
BuzzFeed declared victory with the judge’s opinion that reporters have a right to protect sources.
“We’re pleased the judge has reaffirmed the right of news organizations to safeguard the identities of sources — a right that is protected under both state and federal law,” said spokesman Matt Mittenthal.
As for the Gubarev lawyers saying they located the source, Mr. Mittenthal said, “The First Amendment gives plaintiffs every right to try to spin a loss as a win, but in this case it will not work. The issue before the court was about protecting sources and the judge ruled clearly in BuzzFeed’s favor.”