Russians Sue Trump Dossier Author for Defamation

WASHINGTON (CN) – Three Russian businessmen this week filed a lawsuit against Trump dossier author Christopher Steele and a London-based corporate intelligence company, claiming  the infamous document falsely accused them of being complicit in the alleged Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The lawsuit, filed Monday but posted to the Washington D.C. Superior Court’s public system Friday, is the third that Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan have filed seeking damages for the dossier’s allegedly defamatory contents.

Fridman, Aven and Khan are all investors in the Russian bank Alfa Bank and the Steele dossier claims the three men were involved in the Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. The two-page portion of the document that refers to the businessmen claim Fridman and Aven gave advice to Russian President Vladimir Putin and have close ties to the Kremlin.

The three investors claim none of this is true, and that Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence, which worked with Fusion GPS to produce the document, spread the document to journalists despite knowing that the information was still unverified.

“Defendants could easily have removed that report from the dossier before they delivered it to their client and before they and their client Fusion started peddling it to media and journalists in September and October 2016,” the 22-page complaint states. “They chose not to do so. Nor did they attempt to determine the veracity of that report with the plaintiffs themselves.”

Represented by Alan Lewis, a partner with the New York firm Carter Ledyard & Milburn, the men seek compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at trial.

The complaint details briefings Steele and Fusion GPS arranged with reporters from The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other outlets in the run up to the 2016 election. BuzzFeed eventually published the dossier in January 2017.

In addition, Steele briefed former special envoy to Libya Jonathan Winer and David Kramer, who worked for a private foundation connected to Sen. John McCain, on the dossier, according to the complaint.

All of these briefings, the three businessmen complain, damaged their reputations and business prospects.

“Plaintiffs seek an award of compensatory and punitive damages for the harm to their personal and professional reputations, current business interests and the impairment of business opportunities that resulted from the blatantly false and defamatory statements and implications about them published recklessly to third parties by the defendants and republished by BuzzFeed and countless other media around the world,” the complaint states.

The trio has filed two other defamations lawsuits stemming from the dossier, including one in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson, its founder, that is almost identical to the one filed Monday.

The group also filed a libel suit in state court in New York against BuzzFeed over its decision to publish the dossier.

The London-based Orbis Business Intelligence did not immediately return a request for comment.

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