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 TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy 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 ObamaObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Senate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg Cruz: Trump should nominate a Supreme Court justice next week 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 FeinsteinMcConnell says Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence Intensifying natural disasters do little to move needle on climate efforts 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.