President Donald Trump maintained his attacks on John McCain on Wednesday, accusing the late Republican Arizona senator of putting him in “jeopardy” with the FBI by giving the salacious and unverified Steele dossier to James Comey in late 2016.
At a speech in Ohio, Trump also faulted McCain for not contacting him after receiving the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never liked him much,” Trump said of McCain, who passed away Aug. 25, 2018, after a battle with cancer.
“But there are certain reasons for it,” Trump continued.
“John McCain received the fake and phony dossier. You hear about the dossier? It was paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton. And John McCain got it. He got it. And what did he do? He didn’t call me. He turned it over to the FBI hoping to put me in jeopardy.”
“That’s not the nicest thing to do,” Trump added, while also criticizing McCain for voting against a Republican-led effort to repeal Obamacare.
Trump ramped up his attacks on McCain in the wake of court documents that revealed details about the Republican lawmaker’s handling of the dossier, which was authored by former British spy Christopher Steele. Trump’s comments have drawn rebuke from some Republicans, including Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, who called the remarks “deplorable.”
McCain and an associate, David Kramer, were first told about Steele’s report Nov. 18, 2016. At McCain’s direction, Kramer to travel to London to meet with Steele, a former MI6 officer.
Kramer obtained a copy of the report and provided it to McCain. McCain met with Comey at FBI headquarters Dec. 9, 2016. He long claimed he had no idea whether the allegations in the dossier were accurate, but he said the FBI should investigate. Unknown to McCain at the time, the FBI had already obtained Steele’s report through several other channels.
Kramer, a former State Department official, speculated in a Dec. 13, 2017, deposition that Steele and Fusion GPS chose McCain so a Republican, rather than a Democrat, could present the dossier to Comey.
“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 in a deposition in a court case involving BuzzFeed, which was sued for publishing the dossier.
The FBI took seriously Steele’s report. Investigators relied heavily on the document to obtain four surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The dossier is also the source of salacious allegations that have hung over the Trump administration since BuzzFeed published Steele’s document Jan. 10, 2017. Steele alleges in his first memo of the dossier that the Russian government has a videotape from 2013 of Trump with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. According to Steele’s sources, the Kremlin has used the tape to blackmail Trump.
But more than two years after its publication, the dossier’s most serious allegations about Trump and his associates remain unverified. Serious doubt has been cast on other claims made in the Steele’s report, including that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to pay off Russian hackers.
Cohen, who has since fallen out with Trump, testified under oath Feb. 27 that he never visited Prague.
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