Prostitute tape claims lingering
UK diplomat indicates Russia may have dirt on Trump
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”.
DENIALS: Donald Trump.