On Thursday, documents in a case involving a Russian entrepreneur and Christopher Steele, author of an anti-Trump dossier, were unsealed. The documents revealed that a tech company owned by the Russian was used to hack Democratic Party leaders.
International businessman, Aleksej Gubarev, has made claims that his organizations XBT Holdings and Webzilla were slandered by Steele when his unverified dossier was published by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10, 2017.
The dossier made allegations against Gubarev’s companies, stating that they “used botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘alerting operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.” Steele’s dossier also proposed that Gubarev played a “significant” role in the operation while “under duress” from FSB, the Russian security agency.
According to the New York Times, the unsealed documents also include a forensic analysis report from the FBI cybercrime division’s former top cyber expert. The forensic analysis concludes that Gubarev’s companies did, in fact, get used by Russian operatives in an attempt to hack the leaders of the Democratic Party.
In the dossier, it’s pointed out that Gubarev’s companies were frequently used by different criminal groups and Russian agents to complete different tasks, including the attack on Ukraine’s power grid in 2015. The report may link the companies to Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, but it doesn’t claim that Gubarev or his executives had anything to do with the hacking operations. According to the New Tork Times, the reports lead author, Anthony Ferrante said: “I have no evidence of them actually sitting behind a keyboard.”
Gubarev denied having anything to do with the hack, and while his lawyers attempted to have it kept sealed and inaccessible to the public, last December the judge denied their request and ordered that the documents were to be unsealed.
Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence, was employed by Glenn Simpson’s U.S. company Fusion GPS, to complete the dossier and offer its contents to journalists. Fusion GPS was paid $1.8 million through the law firm Perkins Cole, with money paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
On Thursday, an unsealed court deposition transcript revealed that an associate of late Sen. John McCain was in contact with several different journalists and government officials in order to attempt to distribute the report.
According to the Daily Caller, in a Dec. 13, 2017 deposition, Former State Department official David Kramer said that the report was given to journalists at McClatchy, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Carl Bernstein from Buzzfeed and CNN. Steele’s report was also shared with State Department official Victoria Nuland, Illinois GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, as well as, Obama National Security Counsel official Celeste Wallander.
Kramer also stated that the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, suggested that he was going to use McCain to pass the report around. “I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said.