Dossier compiler meets with Mueller team
WASHINGTON •Theformer British spy behind a controversial dossier about Donald Trump’s links with Russia has spent two days talking to a team of U.S. investigators, it was reported Wednesday.
Christopher Steele met colleagues of Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian election meddling, according to The Washington Post.
It means that investigators will be able to judge at first hand whether they think the claims reported by Steele in the dossier are trustworthy.
Steele had previously refused to appear before Congressional committees looking into how Russia may have interfered in the 2016 election.
The Post also reported that Steele had compared possessing the information he found about Trump to “sitting on a nuclear weapon.”
The newspaper’s 4,000-word article provides the fullest picture yet of how Steele acted after uncovering claims that the Russians had compromising material on Trump.
Steele and his “dossier,” a series of memos written after he was given funding by first Republican and then Democrat opponents of Trump, lies at the heart of the row over Russian interference in the race for the White House. Among the claims made was that Trump asked prostitutes to conduct lurid sex acts while in Russia. He has denied the allegations.
The dossier, published by Buzzfeed after the election, has become the focus of a partisan battle over the Russian investigation, which is looking into links with the Trump campaign team.
Republicans have sought to portray Steele as politically motivated and his claims as unfounded, indicating the entire Russian investigation is constructed on his faulty intelligence.
Democrats have painted Steele as someone who passed on concerns in good faith and stressed his information was not the only reason for starting the Russia investigation. The Post described how Steele, a Russian expert so trusted that he had provided briefings for U.K. prime ministers and at least one other U.S. president, got drawn into the Trump case.
It went on to describe how after Steele’s consulting firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, was commissioned to look into Trump, he became increasingly concerned by the discoveries coming from his network of informants.
Steele eventually reached out to the FBI, with whom he had worked to expose corruption at FIFA.
He met Post journalists twice before the election to get them to print the claims, once “visibly agitated.” The Post, however, declined to publish as it was unable to verify his claims.