Christopher Steele, the former British spy and Russia expert behind the controversial “Steele Dossier,” has spoken on the record for the first time since his reports were published online in January 2017. The dossier alleges deep ties between Donald Trump and Russia, and a conspiracy between Moscow and Trump’s campaign to get the former reality TV star elected president in 2016. But Steele has been consistently attacked by Republicans who claim that the former MI6 agent was part of a plot by the Hillary Clinton campaign to undermine Trump, as CNN has reported.
In a new book by the founders of Fusion GPS, the political opposition research firm that hired Steele, the spy-turned-private-eye rips his critics, as quoted by The New Yorker, which reported on an advance copy of the book.
“These people simply have no idea what they’re talking about,” Steele says in the book, Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump. In response to charges that he was deceived by his sources into spreading Russian lies about Trump, Steele said that his sources have “been proven up in many other matters.”
Steele also dismisses the charge that he was a dupe of Russian disinformation agents.
“I’ve spent my entire adult life working with Russian disinformation,” he told the book’s authors, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. “It’s an incredibly complex subject that is at the very core of my training and my professional mission.”
BuzzFeed News revealed the existence of the Steele Dossier, and posted the entire document online on January 10, 2017 — just 10 days prior to Trump’s inauguration.
The Steele Dossier became best known for its eye-opening allegation of the existence of a “pee tape”. According to the allegation, during a trip to Moscow in 2013, Trump hired two prostitutes to perform a “golden shower” show for his entertainment, urinating on a bed in the presidential suite of the Moscow Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
The “pee tape” allegation has never been confirmed. But many of the other allegations in the dossier, including the central claim that Russia engaged in an election interference operation to benefit Trump, have been shown to be “strikingly right,” the book’s authors write.
Many of the allegations in the Steele Dossier, writes New Yorker investigative reporter Jane Mayer, were corroborated by a CIA “mole” deep inside the Kremlin. That “mole” was later revealed to be Oleg Smolenkov, a top aide to the former Russian ambassador to the United States, Yuri Ushakov.
Perhaps most significantly, the Steele Dossier alleged that the 2016 election operation designed to help Trump win the U.S. presidency was approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. Smolenkov also reported to the CIA that Putin personally gave the green light to Russia’s election attack.