Is the Golden Shower Dossier True? Justice Department Doesn't Want to Answer Questions About 'Sensitive' Investigation

BuzzFeed is in the middle of a legal battle over its publishing of a dossier including information on President Donald Trump. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

The legal battle over the dossier BuzzFeed published in January tying President Donald Trump to Russia continued on Monday when the Justice Department fought back against a request to discuss how the government had handled the sensational claims.

In a court filing submitted Monday, Justice Department attorney Anjali Motgi and team asked that a judge deny BuzzFeed's motion to compel the government to answer questions because it could threaten a pending investigation, put witnesses at risk and inspire others to make similar demands, as first reported by Politico.

Related: Jeff Sessions Should Investigate Hillary Clinton and Trump Dossier or Quit, Republicans Say

"Because the topics of testimony sought would require the Government Respondents to disclose previously nonpublic, sensitive information; could result in a deluge of requests for testimony in similar cases; would detract from Respondents' ability to fulfill their official obligations; and would not advance litigation that serves the public interest, Buzzfeed's subpoena is unduly burdensome," Motgi and colleagues wrote.

They later added, "The testimony here may reveal information about investigative methods and sources, as well as the scope and focus of a pending investigation."

BuzzFeed has been pushing the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to answer questions on nine topics, among them whether the dossier was being investigated on January 10, when the BuzzFeed story was published; whether Trump got a summary of the dossier's contents; whether ex-FBI director James Comey briefed Trump on it on January 6; and whether the government got the dossier from Senator John McCain.

BuzzFeed says it needs to know all of this so it can defend itself in a separate lawsuit with Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian tech boss whose name was in the dossier and has accused the outlet of libel, according to Politico.

Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2017

The dossier is at the center of a legal and political mess with near-constant new developments. Here's a very basic summary, with help from the Washington Post: The American company Fusion GPS started doing research on several Republican candidates during the 2016 campaign at the direction of the Washington Free Beacon. A lawyer for the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee retained Fusion GPS from April 2016 to October 2016. Fusion GPS then hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, who eventually compiled the dossier—of which Clinton staffers say they weren't aware.

BuzzFeed published it in January 2017. The Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller to investigate Russia's meddling in the election in May 2017. Mueller's team then met with Steele as part of the probe, according to the Associated Press.

Somewhere along the way, one of the claims in the dossier—that Trump paid prostitutes to urinate on a Moscow hotel bed where Barack and Michelle Obama had once slept—went viral. The "golden shower" dossier got its nickname and, given the rumor that the Kremlin has video of the incident, has sparked many "pee tape" jokes.

Trump himself has denied the claims, saying that it's "totally made-up stuff." His other defense: "I'm also very much of a germaphobe, by the way, believe me."