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BuzzFeed editor defends publication of dossier

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith defended the website on Wednesday against allegations that it published a controversial opposition research dossier claiming ties between the Trump campaign and Russia out of partisan favoritism.

In a combative interview with Fox News's Tucker Carlson, Smith said that BuzzFeed made the call to publish the dossier because of the reported weight law enforcement and intelligence officials placed on the document, noting that the FBI briefed President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to oust Nielsen as early as this week: report California wildfire becomes deadliest in state’s history Sinema’s Senate win cheered by LGBTQ groups MORE himself on the matter.

He also said that the dossier provided important context for understanding the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. 

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"The dossier is a document of kind of obvious central public importance," he said. "It's the subject of multiple investigations by intelligence agencies, by Congress. That was clear a year ago. It's a lot clearer now."

Carlson, however, argued that BuzzFeed published the document too early, before certain information that would have helped put the dossier in context came to light.

The Fox News host also argued that BuzzFeed would not have published the document had it been about a Democrat, like former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaActivist: Focusing on state-level politics can help Democrats beat GOP gerrymandering Press: Trumpism takes a thumping The Memo: Dem hopes for 2020 grow in midterms afterglow MORE.

"If it was being briefed to the president, absolutely," Smith responded. 

The dossier was commissioned in 2016 by the private research firm Fusion GPS and compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. It contains salacious and unverified allegations against Trump and his associates.

The dossier reportedly circulated among political journalists during the 2016 campaign. BuzzFeed published the document in January 2017, shortly after the U.S. intelligence community made public its assessment that Russia sought to interfere in the election.

Russian meddling and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow have become the subjects of multiple congressional investigations and a special counsel probe. Trump has denied allegations that his campaign coordinated with the Russians and has called the investigations a "witch hunt."

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHow Republicans are likely to handle Democrat-led investigations  Feinstein: Acting AG must pledge to Senate he won't interfere with Mueller Kavanaugh report shows why the presumption of innocence is key MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday released the transcript of a Senate Judiciary Committee interview with Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS, in which he defended the dossier against claims of partisan influence.