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Giorgi Rtskhiladze, an American citizen originally from the former-Soviet nation of Georgia, is suing Robert Mueller and the Department of Justice, claiming that a footnote in Mueller’s Russia report falsely characterized him and linked him to an unverified, scandalous allegation involving President Trump contained in Christopher Steele’s infamous dossier.
Rtskhiladze claims in the complaint, filed Wednesday in D.C. federal court and first reported by Law & Crime, that Mueller falsely described him as a “Russian businessman,” and improperly implied that he had detailed knowledge of purported recordings of Trump in a Moscow hotel in 2013.
“Footnote 112 of Volume II of the Mueller Report weaponized the unverified and debunked Steele Dossier when it falsely but sensationally introduced plaintiff to the world as a nefarious ‘Russian businessman,’ involved in surreptitious actions with a Russian oligarch to assure that purportedly salacious tapes of Mr. Donald J.Trump did not become public and hinder Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election,” the complaint says.
The footnote, located on page 27 of Part II of the report, states, “On October 30, 2016, Michael Cohen received a text from Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze that said, ‘Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know . . . .” The footnote later says that Rtskhiladze said the recordings were “compromising tapes of Trump,” and that “Rtskhiladze said he was told the tapes were fake, but he did not communicate that to Cohen.”
“These statements were false, reckless, and misleading,” the lawsuit says. “Special Counsel Mueller and his team knew that there was no connection between plaintiff and the Steele Dossier, that plaintiff had no contact with anyone associated with the Crocus Group about the purported tapes, and that plaintiff had no knowledge about the whereabouts, existence, or authenticity of such tapes.”
Rtskhiladze says the reason why he contacted Cohen about the tapes was because a friend had called him saying he overheard someone in Moscow talking about tapes of Trump. Rtskhiladze insists it was impossible for him to know what the tapes referred to, since he had no connection to the Steele dossier, and the dossier itself had not been made public yet. He noted that at the time he texted Cohen, it was soon after an Access Hollywood tape had surfaced showing Trump making controversial remarks about women, and there was concern that more tapes could be out there.
The footnote also misquoted Rtskhiladze’s text to Cohen, he claims. The complaint says that in reality, Rtskhiladze said, “Stopped flow of some tapes from Russia but not sure if there is anything else.” He later claims he told Cohen, “Not sure of the content,” but Mueller left this part out.
“The omission of ‘some’ in the quoted text is significant,” the lawsuit claims. “’Stopped the flow of tapes’ suggests familiarity with their content while ‘stopped flow of some tapes’ indicates a lack of familiarity with their content.”
Rtskhiladze says that after the Mueller report came out, he sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr demanding a retraction of the statements, but he did not receive a reply.
Fox News reached out to the Department of Justice for comment, but they did not immediately respond.
Rtskhiladze claims that the statements in the footnote have prevented him from acting as a Georgian emissary to the U.S., as he had been in the process of being named “Honorary consul” for U.S.-Georgia relations.
“The great irony is that plaintiff has spent his adult life fostering a relationship that the Putin regime tirelessly seeks to subvert,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit also alleges that the statements in the footnote have damaged Rtskhiladze’s ability to conduct international business and philanthropy and that by making the statements in the report without giving him an opportunity to respond, Mueller violated his Fifth Amendment procedural due process rights.
Rtskhiladze is seeking $100 million in damages plus attorneys’ fees, as well as a declaration from the court that the statements are defamatory, and an injunction ordering the Justice Department to delete the footnote’s references to him.