Inquiring minds want to know the background details regarding the recent 2 page dossier about the republican President-elect Donald Trump ties to Russia that was disseminated to the White House, secure offices of the president -elect and to selected locations for 8 US House members.
This has the feel of a “fictional cloak and dagger” mystery novel. You will note that the FBI Director James Comey has a central casting role in this plot. And this is why the U.S. Inspector General is officially looking into the actions of FBI regarding its actions during the 2016 US presidential elections.
Here is the rest of the story…
On 1/12/17, The Guardian staff published the following article, “Christopher Steele, ex-MI6 officer, named as author of Trump dossier.”
“Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, has been identified in reports as the author of a dossier that claims Russia collated a file of compromising information on Donald Trump.”
“Steele, 52, who runs London-based Orbis Business Intelligence, was widely named as having compiled the dossier, which contains unverified allegations that Russian security officials have material on Trump including lurid sex videos that could be used to blackmail him.”
“Steele, a former MI6 officer, is one of two directors of Orbis, according to UK company records, along with Christopher Burrows, 58.”
“The Telegraph said Steele left his home on Wednesday morning as it became clear his name would become public and that he feared a backlash from Moscow.”
“The other director, Burrows, refused to “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the report.”
“According to the Wall Street Journal, Steele repeatedly declined requests for interviews in recent weeks, with an intermediary telling the newspaper the subject was “too hot”.
“A neighbor said he was away for a few days, the Wall Street Journal said.”
“Orbis describes itself as being able to “provide strategic advice, mount intelligence-gathering operations and conduct complex, often cross-border investigations”.
“Its website says it was founded in 2009 by former British intelligence professionals and utilises a “global network” of experts and “prominent business figures”.
“The firm, based in Grosvenor Gardens, close to London’s upmarket Belgravia area, says it “draws on extensive experience at boardroom level in government, multilateral diplomacy and international business to develop bespoke solutions for clients”.
“Our tailored approach means the directors are closely involved in the execution and detail of every project, supported by an in-house team of experienced investigators and professional intelligence analysts,” it says.”
“Burrows formerly worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a counselor, according to his LinedkIn profile, with postings to Brussels and Delhi in the early 2000s.”The dossier has been circulating in Washington for some time as media organizations, uncertain of its credibility, held back from publication. After it finally became public Donald Trump gave a press conference on 1/11/17 Wednesday where he hit out over its release and angrily denied the contents.”
“Reports on 1/10/17 Tuesday said the Orbis report was given to US intelligence in 2016 and, after being investigated, formed the basis of a two-page addendum to the US intelligence chief’s’ presentation last Friday 1/6/17 to Trump of a classified report on Russian interference in the elections.”
“The report attributed to Steele says Russia’s intelligence services, directed by President Vladimir Putin, sought to support Trump and hurt his rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election.”
“It said the Trump campaign maintained regular contact with Russian officials and operatives, and that Moscow held compromising materials on Trump that could be used to pressure him.”
“None of the content has been substantiated but US intelligence, through its own investigation, has also concluded that Putin ordered a campaign to support Trump against Clinton.”
From MI6 to the ‘dirty dossier’
“The Reuters news agency, citing former British intelligence officials, said Steel, after leaving MI6, he supplied the FBI with information on corruption at Fifa, international soccer’s governing body. In the summer of 2010, according to emails cited by Reuters, members of a New York-based FBI squad assigned to investigate “Eurasian Organised Crime” met Steele in London to discuss the Fifa allegations. His company assisted football governing bodies in their investigations, Reuters said.”
“In the US presidential campaign Steele was initially hired by a Washington DC political research firm, to investigate Trump on behalf of Republicans opposed to his candidacy. He was kept on the assignment after Trump won the nomination and his information was circulated to Democratic party figures and members of the media, Reuters said.”
“Eventually he began dealing with the FBI regarding the dossier, sources told Reuters, but he became frustrated at the bureau’s slow progress and cut off contact. The material then circulated in political and media circles before ultimately making its way into the public domain.”
“He spent years working for MI6 in Russia and Paris, and at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.”
Julian Borger of The Guardian penned another report about the 2 page dossier marked as “Disinformation” containing material on the U.S. president-elect on 1/12/16, “How the Trump dossier came to light: secret sources, a retired spy and John McCain.”
“The extraordinary but unverified documents published on Tuesday on Donald Trump’s ties with Moscow began life as a piece of opposition research, which has become as much a part of US politics as yard signs and colored balloons.”
“In this case, the request for opposition research on Donald Trump came from one of his Republican opponents in the primary campaign. The research firm then hired one of its sub-contractors who it used regularly on all things Russian: a retired western European former counter-intelligence official, with a long history of dealing with the shadow world of Moscow’s spooks and siloviki (securocrats).”
“By the time the contractor had started his research, however, the Republican primary was over. The original client had dropped out, but the firm that had hired him had found a new, Democratic client. This was not necessarily the Hillary Clinton campaign or the Democratic National Committee. Opposition research is frequently financed by wealthy individuals who have donated all they can and are looking for other ways to help.”
“By July, the counter-intelligence contractor had collected a significant amount of material based on Russian sources who he had grown to trust over the years – not just in Moscow, but also among oligarchs living in the west. He delivered his reports, but the gravity of their contents weighed on him. If the allegations were real, their implications were overwhelming. He delivered a set to former colleagues in the FBI, whose counter-intelligence would be the appropriate body to investigate.”
“As summer turned to autumn, the investigator was asked for more information by the FBI but heard nothing back about any investigation. The bureau seemed obsessed instead with classified material that flowed through a private email server set up by Clinton’s aides. The FBI’s director, James Comey, threw the election into a spin 11 days before the vote by announcing his investigators were examining newly discovered material.”
“The former intelligence official grew concerned that there was a cover-up in progress. On a trip to New York in October, he was persuaded to tell his story to David Corn, the Washington editor of Mother Jones, who first reported the existence of the material on October 31, 2016.
“The FBI however continued to refuse to comment on the issue, despite reports that it had requested and perhaps acquired a warrant for further investigation from the Foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court. The FBI counter-intelligence division, headquartered in Washington, is extremely secretive, much more so than the New York field office, which had strong links to former prosecutor and mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was by then working for Trump. The threat of leaks from New York about Clinton emails had reportedly pushed Comey into making his October surprise announcement.”
“In mid-November, the documents took another route into Washington that ultimately led to them being mentioned in the joint intelligence report on Russian interference that was delivered to President Obama and President-elect Trump. On 18 November, the annual Halifax International Security Forum opened in the Canadian city, bringing together serving and former security and foreign policy officials from around the world.”
“Senator John McCain, a hawkish Republican, was there and was introduced to a former senior western diplomat who had seen the documents, knew their source and thought him highly reliable. McCain decided the implications were sufficiently alarming to dispatch a trusted emissary, a former US official, to meet the source and find out more.”
“The emissary hastily arranged a transatlantic flight and met the source at the airport as arranged. (The Guardian has agreed not to specify the city or country where the meeting took place.) The meeting had a certain cold war tradecraft to it, as he was told to look for a man with a copy of the Financial Times. Having found each other, the retired counter-intelligence officer drove the emissary to his house, where they discussed the documents and their background.”
“The emissary flew back within 24 hours and showed McCain the documents, saying it was hard to impossible to verify them without a proper investigation. McCain said he was reluctant to get involved, lest it be perceived as payback for insulting remarks Trump had made about him during his rambunctious campaign.”
“However, on 9 December, McCain arranged a one-on-one meeting with Comey, with no aides present, and handed them over.”
“Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the Director of the FBI. That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue,” the senator said in a statement on Wednesday morning.”
“It is not clear what underpinned the FBI’s decision to include a summary of the documents in its highly classified briefing to the president and president-elect and their top staff, before the bureau had completed its investigation. It may have been as a defensive measure, to prove for posterity that it was not involved in a cover-up, or because its investigators believed them to be credible.”
Whatever the motive, it was quickly leaked –First to CNN, which reported on the material on Wednesday (1/11/17). That triggered a controversial decision by BuzzFeed to publish an unredacted version of the documents on its website. The unredacted version could have come from the original client, who commissioned the research, or from intermediaries between the counter-intelligence contractor and the client.”