BuzzFeed News recently hired a former FBI agent and White House national security council official to try to verify parts of the infamous Steele dossier.
Foreign Policy reports that six months ago, BuzzFeed hired Anthony Ferrante, a senior director at FTI Consulting, to conduct an investigation in order to help with lawsuits that the news outlet faces for publishing the dossier.
Ferrante, who joined the FBI as a special agent in 2005, took part in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He served for several months in the Trump administration as director for Cyber Incident Response at the U.S. National Security Council. He left the White House in April to join FTI.
BuzzFeed, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017, is the defendant in three separate lawsuits related to the dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Russian tech executive Aleksej Gubarev filed the first lawsuit against BuzzFeed. Steele accused Gubarev in the dossier of using his web hosting companies of using viruses and malware to infiltrate the DNC’s computer systems. Three executives at the Russian bank Alfa Bank have also sued BuzzFeed.
Michael Cohen, a lawyer for Donald Trump’s real estate company, filed suit last month.
The dossier alleges that Cohen met secretly in Prague with Kremlin officials in Aug. 2016 as part of a conspiracy to collude during the presidential campaign.
Cohen has vehemently denied the allegations, saying that he has never been to Prague and has never met with Kremlin officials.
According to Foreign Policy, Ferrante’s investigation was initially focused on the dossier’s allegations about Gubarev. BuzzFeed’s lawyers have issued subpoenas and issued interview requests based on Ferrante’s recommendations. As additional lawsuits have been filed against BuzzFeed, Ferrante’s investigation has expanded.
One of the arguments that Gubarev’s lawyers have made against BuzzFeed is that the website failed to verify or investigate parts of the dossier before publishing the document. BuzzFeed has countered that argument, saying that its article introducing the dossier acknowledged that the dossier had not been verified.
Evan Fray-Witzer, a lawyer for Gubarev, took a shot at BuzzFeed over news of Ferrante’s hire.
“Buzzfeed has admitted that, prior to publishing the Dossier, it did absolutely nothing to determine whether any of the allegations against Gubarev were true,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It would have been nice if Buzzfeed had put as much effort into its investigatory efforts before slandering the plaintiffs.”
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