TEL AVIV — The controversial, largely discredited 35-page dossier on President Donald Trump compiled by a former British intelligence officer served as a “roadmap” for the FBI’s investigation into claims of coordination between Moscow and members of Trump’s presidential campaign, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
The dossier, which contains wild and unproven claims about Trump and sordid sexual acts, including the mocked claim that Trump hired prostitutes and had them urinate on a hotel room bed, was compiled by former intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who was reportedly paid by Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans to investigate Trump.
Mike Morell, who served as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and twice as acting director, has questioned the dossier’s credibility as have news media reports worldwide.
“The roadmap for the investigation, publicly acknowledged now for the first time, comes from Christopher Steele, once of Britain’s secret intelligence service MI6,” the BBC’s Paul Wood reported.
Wood acknowledged that until now “no single piece of evidence has been made public proving that the Trump campaign joined with Russia to steal the US presidency – nothing.”
But he wrote that “the FBI Director, James Comey, told a hushed committee room in Congress last week that this is precisely what his agents are investigating.”
Wood related that Steele’s dossier “contains a number of highly contested claims.”
But one of the claims in the controversial document was purportedly verified by Wood – that Mikhail Kalugin, a Russian diplomat pulled out of Washington by Moscow, was a Russian agent.
Wood relates that “sources I know and trust have told me the US government identified Kalugin as a spy while he was still at the embassy.”
Of course, in the diplomatic world it is widely known that many top foreign diplomats report back to their home countries about information gleaned in the host country.
Spelling Kalugin’s name wrong, Steele at one point claimed: “A leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN, had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation… would be exposed in the media there.”
The FBI is not alone in relying on Steele. Earlier this month, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on a House intelligence committee, cited Steele as a source repeatedly when he delivered his opening statements at a hearing where he laid out the case for alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The Washington Post reported that after being paid to compile opposition research on Trump by the billionaire’s opponents during the election, Steele “reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work, according to several people familiar with the arrangement.”
Ultimately, the FBI did not pay, Steele, the Post reported.
The Post report continued:
Communications between the bureau and the former spy were interrupted as Steele’s now-famous dossier became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials, according to the people familiar with the arrangement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
In light of the Post report, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley earlier this month sent a letter requesting information on whether the FBI utilized Steele.
In the letter, Grassley questioned the FBI’s intentions over the Steele report:
The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for President in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends.
Citing current and former government officials, the New Yorker reported the dossier prompted skepticism among intelligence community member, with the publication quoting one member as saying it was a “nutty” piece of evidence to submit to a U.S. president.
Steele’s work has been questioned by former acting CIA director Morell, who currently works at the Hillary Clinton-tied Beacon Global Strategies LLC. Beacon was founded by Phillippe Reines, who served as Communications Adviser to Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. From 2009-2013, Reines also served in Clinton’s State Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications. Reines is the managing director of Beacon.
NBC News reported on Morell’s questions about Steele’s credibility:
Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. …
Morell pointed out that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Meet the Press on March 5 that he had seen no evidence of a conspiracy when he left office January 20.
“That’s a pretty strong statement by General Clapper,” Morell said.
Regarding Steele’s dossier, Morell stated, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t.”
Morell charged the dossier “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”
“I had two questions when I first read it. One was, How did Chris talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries.”
And then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, “Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,” because they want to get paid some more.
I think you’ve got to take all that into consideration when you consider the dossier.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
With research by Joshua Klein.