Pangs of conscience or howl of an empty wallet? Steele claims he never meant for infamous Russiagate dossier to go public
Former British spy Christopher Steele insists he never wanted the notorious Trump dossier, which was central to the Russiagate investigation, to be made public. The belated pang of conscience emerged in response to a new lawsuit.
Steele would have done “whatever I could do to prevent” BuzzFeed from publishing the dossier, he told London’s High Court in a written statement on Wednesday.
The document, which Steele compiled at the behest of the US opposition research firm Fusion GPS and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, was published in early January 2017, shortly before Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The former spy’s pang of conscience might have had something to do with the defamation lawsuit by Russian tech entrepreneur Aleksey Gubarev. One of the claims in the Steele dossier was that Gubarev’s Webzilla internet service provider was used by Russian security services to hack the Clinton campaign. The tech executive has not only denied the claim but sued both BuzzFeed and Steele for making it.Also on rt.com ‘Russian agent’ or Steele’s patsy? ‘Revealed’ identity of primary sub-source for Russiagate dossier sparks fresh speculation
Despite his professed remorse, however, Steele admitted he provided copies of the “pre-election” dossier, compiled between June and October 2016, to the FBI and the State Department because of its “national security implications.” Another copy was sent to a UK national security official in the days following the election, lest the Trump administration “compromise British sources and operations.”
He whipped up a second version in December 2016, and gave that to the same UK official, as well as the since-deceased Arizona Senator John McCain – who leaked it to a number of US media outlets, including BuzzFeed, Steele explained.
That second memo, he wrote, was “self-evidently sensitive and confidential,” meaning it was never intended to make it into print, where Gubarev could read it and sue him.
Steele has admitted the dossier was largely “unverifiable,” presumably intended to serve as the basis for further investigation that could confirm or deny its claims. Earlier this week, internet sleuths suggested that Steele’s mysterious Russian source was in fact a Washington-based Brookings Institute researcher, who lacked firsthand knowledge of any of its salacious claims.Also on rt.com Galloway: UK Parliament’s Russia report is nothing but gossip, it doesn't even pass the ‘highly likely’ test of Salisbury fame
Steele has previously said that his 17-page report was commissioned with the intention of giving Clinton legal basis to challenge the 2016 election. While the legal challenge never happened, the dossier saw plenty of uses in “further investigation” of Trump, both official and in the court of public opinion.
The FBI used it as the backbone of its request for a FISA warrant to spy on Trump’s campaign via aide Carter Page, whom Steele claimed met secretly with Russian agents in Moscow. The dossier also underpinned special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling 'Russiagate' probe.
While Mueller ultimately came up empty in his efforts to prove the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russian government to get the president elected, relations between the US and Russia deteriorated considerably as Trump’s cabinet urged him to take a more antagonistic position toward Moscow so as not to be seen as the 'Putin puppet' the media and Democrats were determined to call him anyway.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!