BuzzFeed News will fight a lawsuit arising from publication of the infamous “pee tape” dossier by proving some of the allegations against Donald Trump are true, Foreign Policy reported Tuesday.
The website has hired a team of investigators headed by former FBI and White House cybersecurity official Anthony Ferrante, according to four sources speaking to the magazine.
Ferrante, who left the White House in April 2017, works with FTI Consulting and has been tasked with verifying the dossier, which was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
BuzzFeed is being sued for libel by Russian technology executive Aleksej Gubarev, who claims the website was reckless in publishing the series of memos written by Steele, paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
BuzzFeed was the first outlet to publish the dossier, which includes multiple salacious allegations against the U.S. president, including the claim Moscow has a piss-heavy sex tape of the then-businessman.
Should Ferrante succeed, it will be of major interest to FBI special counsel Robert Mueller, currently investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Ferrante, who joined the FBI in 2005, oversaw the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election while in the White House.
He was initially hired by FTI to probe aspects of the dossier related to Gubarev, but his scope has now been expanded, Foreign Policy reports.
Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, last month launched a suit against BuzzFeed News for defamation over the publication.
Describing BuzzFeed’s approach to defending the lawsuit, one source said: “If it’s fact, it’s not libel, that’s the idea.”
The first indication of what Ferrante and his team may have discovered could come as soon as Thursday when the Florida court overseeing the action will hold a hearing in which the names of testifying expert witnesses are likely be revealed.
Cover image: Donald Trump attends the National Prayer Breakfast at a hotel in Washington, DC on February 8, 2018. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)