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BuzzFeed sues DNC for information on Trump dossier

The news outlet hopes information about a controversial document will bolster its defense against a libel lawsuit.


BuzzFeed is suing the Democratic National Committee for information about a controversial dossier about Donald Trump the news outlet published last year.

Steven Musil/CNET

BuzzFeed has filed a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, hoping to receive information related to a libel lawsuit the news site faces over its publication of Christopher Steele's Russia dossier.

BuzzFeed, which published the controversial dossier last year, has been sued by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman who says he was libeled by BuzzFeed's publication of the dossier when it tied him with the alleged hacking of DNC email servers during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

The dossier, funded in part by the DNC and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, contains inflammatory allegations about President Donald Trump and his alleged connections to Russia. Trump has dismissed the dossier as "bogus" and denied his campaign had any ties to Russia.

BuzzFeed argues the DNC has information that could bolster its defense against Gubarev's lawsuit.

"As part of the discovery process, BuzzFeed is attempting to verify claims in the dossier that relate to the hacking of the DNC -- which, the dossier alleges, was done with the support of Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman," BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal said in a statement. "We're asking a federal court to force the DNC to follow the law and allow BuzzFeed to fully defend its First Amendment rights."

The DNC didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but told Vanity Fair, which first reported the lawsuit, that providing such information could make it vulnerable to another cyberattack.

The document is also at the center of a controversy over a Republican-penned memo that accuses the Justice Department of anti-Trump bias. The memo, declassified by Trump earlier this month, alleges that an FBI agent acknowledged to lawmakers that the dossier was an "essential part" of an application to obtain surveillance warrants for Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

CNET's Laura Hautala contributed to this report.

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