Court Backs BuzzFeed in Trump Dossier Case (Politico)

A federal judge denied a Russian mogul’s bid to force internet media company BuzzFeed to divulge its source for the “Trump Dossier” – a report that makes claims against President Donald Trump of collusion during the 2016 presidential campaign as well as other salacious allegations.

Politico reported that U.S. Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan rejected arguments from Russian internet mogul Aleksej Gubarev that the BuzzFeed news outlet did not qualify as a news organization under Florida’s shield law, which limits legal demands for journalist’s records and sources.  

 “There is nothing in the statute that limits the privilege to traditional print media,” O’Sullivan wrote in his 11-page decision. “Because BuzzFeed writes stores and publishes news articles on its website, it qualifies as a ‘news agency,’ ‘news journal,’ or ‘news magazine.’” 

 In addition, O’Sullivan said Gubarev had not exhausted his options for finding out who gave BuzzFeed the dossier. In fact, Gubarev’s attorney Val Gurvits said they had discovered who the source is without a favorable ruling from the court. “As it turns out, we were able to get the information we wanted and were actually in the process of withdrawing the motion when the decision was issued,” Gubarev wrote in an email.

Gubarev refused to divulge the source or if he had discovered the source’s motive.

The dossier was commissioned by the Democratic National Committee and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Fusion GPS, a Washington-based private investigation firm, hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steel to prepare the 11-page dossier, which was used as opposition research. Many of the allegations again Trump of collusion and compromising sex acts have not yet been independently verified.

BuzzFeed spokesman Mat Mittenthal called O’Sullivan’s ruling “a victory for journalists.”

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