Ex-Spy Steele Still Believes Trump Colluded With Russia, Even After US Discredited His Dossier
© AP Photo / Victoria Jones/PAChristopher Steele, former British intelligence officer in London Tuesday March 7, 2017 where he has spoken to the media for the first time . Steele who compiled an explosive and unproven dossier on President Donald Trump’s purported activities in Russia has returned to work
© AP Photo / Victoria Jones/PA
The claims made in the dossier were used by the FBI to obtain FISA warrants to spy on a member of Trump's 2016 campaign even though the bureau already had reason to believe that Steele's reports were unreliable.
Christopher Steele, the ex-MI6 spy who drafted the notorious dossier, has suddenly emerged from the shadows to defend his creation – one that has long been proven false and largely forgotten (except for maybe the ridiculous claim about Trump's "pee tape" – hard to get this one out of your head).
He explains in an interview with the channel ABC that he wanted to "set the record straight" and defend the claims he made in his dossier, compiled in 2016, after being hired by Fusion GPS, which, in turn, was employed by Hillary Clinton and a DNC lawyer.
"I stand by the work we did, the sources that we had, and the professionalism which we applied to it".
Steele, a former MI6 spy, who had a reputation as being a credible source in the FBI, which received his reports about Trump first hand, insists that an absolute majority of the claims he made in the dossier were correct. He namely had little doubt that the notorious "pee tape" existed – referring to a video that the Kremlin allegedly keeps as "kompromat" against Trump, purportedly showing two prostitutes urinating on a bed at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow in 2013 in front of the would-be US president.
Both the Kremlin and Trump himself strongly rejected the claims made by the former spy.
"I'm not into golden showers. You know the great thing, our great first lady — 'That one', she said, 'I don't believe that one'".
Grilled by an ABC host about why this tape was never released then, Steele insisted that it didn't happen because allegedly the Kremlin had no need for it.
Steele also strongly defended his claims that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen travelled to Prague in 2016 to meet with Russian officials. These statements were not only rejected by Cohen and Moscow, but also proven to be untrue by the investigative team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a 2019 probe by the Justice Department's inspector general.
"I'm prepared to accept that not everything in the dossier is 100% accurate. I have yet to be convinced that that is one of them […] I think it's so incriminating and demeaning. And the other reason is he might be scared of the consequences", Steele suggested trying to explain why Cohen never confessed to the alleged Prague visit in his extensive guilty plea.
Unreliable Sources and Consequences for FBI
Despite being hired to dig up dirt on Trump and his campaign by a private company employed by the DNC, Steele handed over his reports to the FBI, while concealing the identities of his employers and their possible interest in these findings amid the 2016 presidential campaign. The bureau had already opened an investigation into Trump's campaign by the time Steele started handing them over his reports, but the ex-MI6 spy's efforts helped the FBI to secure FISA surveillance warrants for Trump adviser Carter Page.
The 2019 investigation by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz showed that Steele admitted that his source, who claimed that Page went to Moscow to discuss the "lifting of western sanctions against Russia" and the release of damaging information about Hillary Clinton, was a "boaster", who might be inclined towards "embellishment". The same probe showed that the FBI failed to present these concerns to the judge issuing the FISA warrants, thus prompting scathing criticism from Horowitz.
© AP Photo / Jacquelyn MartinDepartment of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Capitol Hill in Washington
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Capitol Hill in Washington
© AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin
The FBI eventually broke off its ties with Steele upon realising that he was leaking the same parts of his reports on Trump to the media. However, the former MI6 spy managed to slip his reports to the bureau anyway – through DOJ lawyer Bruce Ohr, whose wife worked at Fusion GPS, the company that hired Steele – thus continuing to affect the FBI's investigation into Trump.
The FBI started checking Steele's sources in November 2016, the DOJ inspector general's probe revealed. The bureau then learned from the ex-spy's colleagues that he tended to demonstrate "poor judgment" by "pursuing people with political risk but no intel value". Furthermore, the FBI found out that Steele mainly relied on a "primary sub-source", who was identified as Belarus-born businessman, Sergei Millian.
25 September 2020, 02:40 GMT
In his interviews with the FBI, Millian revealed that what he told Steele was "just talk", "word of mouth and hearsay" or could be counted as conversations that one has "with friends over beers". The businessman specifically said of the notorious "pee tape" that it was "rumour and speculation" retold "in jest". Millian further noted that many statements made by Steele in his dossier, which was published in full in January 2017 by BuzzFeed, contained "misstated or exaggerated" statements and that the ex-MI6 spy's reports were more "conclusive" than they should have been.
Despite these bombshell revelations, Steele was never held accountable over his dossier, which Donald Trump claims has fuelled a years-long "witch hunt" against him by the FBI. The FBI itself also emerged relatively unscathed from the scandal receiving only a reprimand from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz for failing to reveal all the relevant information when applying for FISA surveillance warrants.