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McCain associate takes Fifth on Trump dossier questions

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A former State Department official and associate of Sen. John McCain has invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in connection with questions from the House Intelligence Committee about the anti-Trump dossier’s Russian sources, according to a law enforcement source.

David J. Kramer, who is a central player in how the unverified Trump dossier made its way to the FBI in late 2016, testified before the committee in December in a closed-door session, indicating he had information about the dossier’s sources. A subpoena was issued for mid-January, as first reported by The Washington Examiner

The law enforcement source confirmed, however, that Kramer did not appear and has exercised his Fifth Amendment rights. 

Yet Kramer gave a videotaped deposition last December in separate civil litigation against BuzzFeed about the dossier and his contact with the former British spy who compiled it, Christopher Steele. Steele was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS to write and research the dossier, with funding from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign. 

According to British court records obtained by Fox News as part of its ongoing investigation of the Trump dossier, Kramer was personally briefed in late November 2016 by Steele in Surrey, England. After that briefing, Steele told the British court that an arrangement was made so that Fusion GPS — co-founded by Glenn Simpson – would provide hard copies of the dossier to McCain via Kramer. Shortly afterward, the dossier was given to the FBI, which already had its own copy from Steele.

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Kramer greets Sen. John McCain at the Halifax International Security Forum.

 (Halifax International Security Forum)

Steele has refused to testify before Congress. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department asking them to investigate whether Steele lied about the dossier’s distribution and his media contact. 

Fox News has repeatedly reached out to Kramer, and this week posed four questions to Kramer’s Florida attorney Marcos Jimenez, who is handling one of the defamation suits filed by Russian technology oligarchs against BuzzFeed for publishing the unverified dossier in January 2017. Fox News asked why Kramer took the Fifth; why he’s no longer cooperating with the committee; why they want to keep the BuzzFeed deposition under seal; and whether Kramer helped provide the document to BuzzFeed.

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David Kramer in November

 (Fox News/Pamela Browne)

There was no immediate response from Kramer’s lawyer to an email and phone message seeking comment.

The next hearing regarding Kramer’s deposition in the BuzzFeed defamation suit, and whether it should be publicly available, is set for Feb. 27.  

According to January civil proceedings in the case, “Gubarev, et al v. Buzzfeed et al,” Kramer’s attorney wants “his entire deposition as attorney’s eyes only confidential.” 

Lawyer Evan Fray Witzer, representing the Russian businessman, believes it should be public and not under a protective order. “We don’t think any of it is confidential. None of it talks about any kind of trade secrets, any kind of information that one would normally think of as being protected,” he said.

Fox News reported in December on the dossier handoff.

A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee had no comment.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

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SNP's Kenny MacAskill accused of 'hypocrisy' for undertaking two 340-mile lockdown trips

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A SNP MP is being probed by his party whips after he undertook two 340-mile round trips during tough lockdown restrictions.

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Puerto Rico radio producer is arrested by FBI over government chat scandal

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—The FBI arrested a radio producer Wednesday for allegedly trying to extort money from a government official to prevent the release of private messages that would “burn down Puerto Rico” — communications from an encrypted messaging app that later brought down Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

Sixto Jorge Díaz Colón, 52, who once worked for the Spanish Broadcasting System, faces federal charges including attempted extortion and the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation, according to a grand jury indictment.

The indictment says a former government subcontractor contacted Díaz in February 2019 and said he had a copy of messages sent via the Telegram app that supposedly contained incriminating information about Rosselló, his close associates and members of his party.

Four months later, authorities allege, Díaz sent a Telegram message to the island’s public affairs secretary saying that if the Rosselló government “does not stop messing” with the relative of a former senior official, the subcontractor “has overwhelming evidence” that could wreck the administration, starting with the governor.

Authorities say Díaz then contacted the public affairs secretary to request a meeting, during which he asked for help in obtaining government contracts that would compensate him.

“Public corruption has many faces,” said Rafael Riviere, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Juan office. “Sometimes … criminals will try to exploit the weaknesses of those who hold public office. This is also a form of public corruption and, as any other form of corruption, it will not be tolerated.”

While the indictment does not identify the public affairs secretary by name, Anthony Maceira was in that position at the time.

Joannie Plaza-Martínez, a public defender assigned to Díaz’s case, did not immediately return a message for comment. Maceira did not respond to a request for comment.

The names of the relative and subcontractor were not released.

Weeks after the meeting, local media released hundreds of pages of the private, profanity-laced Telegram messages in which Rosselló and other high-ranking officials insulted women and mocked constituents, including victims of Hurricane María. The revelation led to huge protests that paralyzed Puerto Rico and eventually prompted Rosselló to resign.

During that time, officials charge, Díaz tried to extort money from the public affairs secretary to prevent the release of additional Telegram messages, saying the subcontractor intended to “burn down Puerto Rico” unless he received some $300,000 via Díaz. Authorities allege Díaz also requested additional money to pay others who would advocate for Rosselló and the reinstatement of government contracts that would benefit him.

The indictment states that while the public affairs secretary sent a Telegram message saying they were working on the matter, no money was paid or contracts awarded.

FBI spokeswoman Limary Cruz said Díaz was arrested at his home Wednesday.

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Merkel ally demands 'trade war' with Britain if vaccines are not shipped from UK to EU

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A CLOSE ally of Angela Merkel has proposed a “trade war” with Britain unless vaccine-maker AstraZeneca agrees to divert doses from the UK to the EU.

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