Pros­ti­tute tape claims lin­ger­ing

UK diplo­mat in­di­cates Rus­sia may have dirt on Trump

The Morning Bulletin - - NEWS WORLD - Kim Sen­gupta THE IN­DE­PEN­DENT

A FOR­MER Bri­tish am­bas­sador to Rus­sia had a sig­nif­i­cant role in US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies re­ceiv­ing ex­plo­sive al­le­ga­tions about Don­ald Trump and the Krem­lin.

US Sen­a­tor John McCain spoke with Sir An­drew Wood, the UK’s head of mis­sion in Moscow for five years, about claims the US Pres­i­dent-elect was sus­cep­ti­ble to black­mail over al­leged sex­ual ac­tiv­ity and that his team had col­luded with Moscow dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign.

The meet­ing took place at an in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity con­fer­ence in Hal­i­fax, Canada in Novem­ber, af­ter Mr Trump’s vic­tory.

There, Mr McCain sought the ad­vice of Sir An­drew on a dossier put to­gether by for­mer Bri­tish MI6 of­fi­cer Christo­pher Steele about Mr Trump and the Moscow con­nec­tion.

Mr McCain, the chair of the Se­nate Armed Forces Com­mit­tee, was so con­cerned by what he had heard that he per­son­ally met FBI di­rec­tor James Comey af­ter re­turn­ing from Canada and passed on the in­for­ma­tion.

It formed part of a re­port, about Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion process, pre­sented to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Mr Trump last week.

Sir An­drew told The In­de­pen­dent: “Yes I did meet Sen­a­tor McCain and his aides at the con­fer­ence. The is­sue of Don­ald Trump and Rus­sia was very much in the news and it was nat­u­ral to talk about it.

“We spoke about the kind of ac­tiv­i­ties the Rus­sians can be en­gaged in. We also spoke about how Mr Trump may find him­self in a po­si­tion where there could be an at­tempt to black­mail him with kom­pro­mat (com­pro­mis­ing ma­te­rial) and claims that there were au­dio and video tapes in ex­is­tence.

“I did not see a dossier at the time. I do know Christo­pher Steele and in my view he is very pro­fes­sional and thor­ough in what he does.”

He added: “Sen­a­tor McCain and I talked about Rus­sian hack­ing in the US elec­tion as well. I find it dif­fi­cult to be­lieve that Don­ald Trump could not have known some­thing about the hack­ing.

“He had ba­si­cally asked peo­ple to prove it – he has never said this is some­thing which should be in­ves­ti­gated. My view is that these are se­ri­ous mat­ters and that they should be in­ves­ti­gated.”

Mr Steele, who had been based in Moscow and sub­se­quently started a se­cu­rity com­pany in Lon­don, was com­mis­sioned by po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents of Mr Trump to in­ves­ti­gate grow­ing claims that Vladimir Putin’s gov­ern­ment was try­ing to ma­nip­u­late the US elec­tions.

He pro­duced a se­ries of re­ports claim­ing the Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence ser­vice had com­pro­mis­ing tapes of Mr Trump with pros­ti­tutes in a ho­tel room and that he had been of­fered, and de­clined, lu­cra­tive busi­ness deals.

There were fur­ther claims the Krem­lin had been “groom­ing” Mr Trump for more than five years to be, in ef­fect, the “Mosco­vian Can­di­date” in the White House.

The US in­tel­li­gence ser­vices ac­knowl­edged they had not ver­i­fied the claims made by Mr Steele, but they had in­cluded them in the re­port be­cause of the high re­gard for him in the se­cu­rity world.

Mr Trump has slammed the re­ports as “fake news”.

PHOTO: D. VAN TINE/STAR MAX

DE­NIALS: Don­ald Trump.

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