Donald Trump said he is prepared to give evidence at a London trial as part of his legal fight over the notorious dossier that alleged ties between the Kremlin and the former US president’s successful run to the White House.
(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump said he is prepared to give evidence at a London trial as part of his legal fight over the notorious dossier that alleged ties between the Kremlin and the former US president’s successful run to the White House.
Trump kicked off his data collection suit in a London court against ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele’s Orbis business intelligence firm on Monday, saying he’d suffered “significant damage and distress” from the publication of the dossier. He’s seeking a judge’s ruling that statements in the report were false.
“A judgment of the English court on this issue will be an immense relief to me as it will completely confirm the true position to the public at large,” Trump said in a witness statement prepared for the two-day hearing at the High Court.
The Steele dossier made headlines around the world when it was leaked to BuzzFeed in January 2017 with allegations that the presidential campaign had been compromised by the Russian security service.
With the London lawsuit, Trump is opening a new front in his already crowded legal calendar. In the US, he faces four prosecutions, on top of two civil trials, as he runs to regain the White House. He’s expected to attend the civil fraud trial against him in New York this week.
Trump has continued to reserve his ire for Steele. The dossier contains “shocking and scandalous claims about the conduct of President Trump,” his lawyer Hugh Tomlinson said. He said Trump wanted a “vindication of his legal rights.”
Steele, who Trump once called a “lowlife” was retained by a Washington-based research firm in June 2016 to examine Trump’s links to Russia. The Democratic National Committee and the campaign of Hillary Clinton hired Fusion GPS after Trump was headed for the nomination.
This week’s hearing will decide on Orbis’s bid to knock out the claim at an early date in the case. Lawyers for Steele’s firm argue the claim has no reasonable prospect of success and that Trump is merely pursuing a “vendetta.” Trump has a history of “harassing perceived enemies and others against whom he bears a grudge,” Orbis’s lawyers said.
“It’s uncontroversial for me to say that President Trump is a controversial figure,” Trump’s lawyer Tomlinson told the judge. “His interactions with the US legal system have been many and varied, but we say none of this is relevant.”
Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven previously successfully sued Steele in a data-protection suit but a libel claim brought by another wealthy Russian individual failed.
Orbis said the dossier was never intended to be made public and Trump couldn’t hold the firm responsible for the Buzzfeed publication itself.
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