Donald Trump’s oft-repeated claim that the famous Steele Dossier was a partisan hit job against him may be taking a major blow after a long-anticipated report from the Department of Justice’s inspector general found that author Christopher Steele was supposedly “friendly” with the president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump.
The inspector general’s report was meant to uncover whether there was political bias in the origins of the Russia investigation — another frequent claim from the president. As ABC News reported, the anticipated report did not uncover any bias or inappropriate actions in launching the investigation of whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. Instead, it purportedly found that the former British intelligence officer whose work helped fuel the allegations of Russian collusion considered himself a friend of the Trump family.
As the report noted, Steele was asked about whether he felt biased against then-candidate Trump, saying he was actually inclined the other way.
“He stated that if anything he was ‘favorably disposed’ toward the Trump family before he began his research, because he had visited a Trump family member at Trump Tower and ‘been friendly’ with [the family member] for some years,” the report noted, via NPR, with ABC News reporting that Ivanka was the unnamed family member.
“He described their relationship as ‘personal’ and said that he once gifted a family tartan from Scotland to the family member.”
ABC News noted that its reporters first learned of the relationship between Steele and Ivanka Trump a year ago, but was only recently able to confirm it through access to their conversations. The two reportedly met at a dinner in 2007 and corresponded about the possibility of working together to help the Trump Organization expand into foreign markets. They remained in contact for several years after that, at one point reportedly discussing a meeting near Trump Tower.
Prior to his work as a consultant, Steele was a top British intelligence officer with extensive contacts in Russia.
As Salon noted, the president has frequently leveled personal attacks against Steele, calling him a “lowlife” and claiming that he was “tied into Crooked Hillary [Clinton].” Steele previously said he used contacts in Russia to compile intelligence about Trump’s reported business dealings in Russia and connections between Russia and his campaign. He cautioned that his work consisted of raw intelligence that was not verified.
The opposition research into Trump had started with the conservative political website Washington Free Beacon but was picked up by the Democratic National Committee and a lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign when he secured the nomination.