Former high-ranking British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who authored the controversial “Steele Dossier,” spoke publicly for the first time on Friday about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties, and possible collusion between Trump and Russia to tamper with the 2016 presidential election. The Steele Dossier alleged deep ties between Trump and Russia, but perhaps became best known for the so-called “pee tape” allegation.
In his dossier — a compilation of private intelligence reports — Steele alleged numerous methods by which Russia held leverage over Trump, including financial ties and blackmail material. The blackmail included a supposed video recording of Trump in a Moscow hotel room watching prostitutes perform a “golden shower” urination show on a bed.
But the topic of the “pee tape” apparently did not come up on Friday when Steele spoke to a group of Oxford University students in the United Kingdom. In the talk, which was documented by The Daily Beast, Steele heavily criticized Mueller, saying that the special counsel’s report showed no signs of investigators “drilling down into financial networks and leverage.”
According to Steele, using financial leverage is “the way Russian influence works,” as quoted by The Daily Beast.
The same criticism was made by House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff last year, saying that Mueller did not appear to be “doing much of a money laundering investigation” into Trump.
Christopher Steele: “Trump himself doesn’t like intelligence because its ground truth is inconvenient for him”. pic.twitter.com/TFEIQ9sorw— Oxford Union (@OxfordUnion) March 6, 2020
“What we are interested in is, does the president have business dealings with Russia such that it compromises the United States?” Schiff said in February of 2019, as quoted by The Washington Post.
Steele also told the Oxford students that he submitted to an interview with Mueller’s investigators, but though he spoke to them for two complete days of questioning, “I was surprised that very little of what I had discussed with them appeared in the final report,” as quoted by The Daily Beast.
He also criticized Mueller for failing to pursue important evidentiary leads, and for keeping a “too narrow” focus in the investigation. Steele singled out Mueller’s failure to interview Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., saying that overlooking the younger Trump “wasn’t great.”
Trump Jr. held a meeting with a group of Kremlin-linked Russians in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 — a meeting at which he believed he would receive incriminating information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that had been gathered by the Russian government. Though the meeting appeared, according to legal experts, to constitute a violation of campaign finance laws, Mueller puzzlingly failed to indict the younger Trump.
Though his dossier has been repeatedly attacked by Trump, congressional Republicans, and conservative media outlets, Steele told the Oxford students, “we stand by the integrity of our work and the integrity of our sources,” according to the Daily Beast report.