In April 2018, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Steele in D.C. Superior Court.
The chief investors of Alfa Bank, Russian’s largest commercial bank, claimed that Mr. Steele falsely accused them of corruption over their close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Steele also accused them of being involved in the Russian government’s illegal interference in the 2016 election through computer hacking and social media warfare.
The trio saw Judge Anthony C. Epstein toss the case four months later. The judge ruled that the executives, among the billionaire class that dominates Russia’s business landscape, are public figures. They failed to show that Mr. Steele exhibited the legally required “actual malice,” or disregard for the truth, to win a U.S. libel case.
Then a new development materialized. Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz released his 478-page report on how the FBI handled Mr. Steele’s dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Lewis argues the IG report gives them the evidence they need to prove “actual malice” in the lower court.