The author of a controversial, partially discredited 35-page dossier alleging collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has conceded in court documents that part his work still needed to be verified.
Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who did work for a firm that was reportedly paid by Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans to investigate Trump, also alleged in the recent court filings that the contents of the dossier were never meant to be made public.
The dossier contains wild and unproven claims about Trump and sordid sexual acts, including the widely-mocked claim that Trump hired prostitutes and had them urinate on a hotel room bed.
Steele’s dossier reportedly served as the FBI’s justification for seeking court approval to clandestinely monitor Carter Page, who has been identified as a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump. In March, the BBC reported the document also served as a “roadmap” for the FBI’s investigation into claims of coordination between Moscow and members of Trump’s presidential campaign.
CNN obtained Steele’s latest legal filing, which states that some of the findings in the dossier passed to the U.S. and British governments “needed to be analyzed and further investigated/verified.”
This acknowledgment from Steele referred specifically to one memo he wrote, not his entire dossier.
The filing, first reported by the Washington Times, seeks to defend Steele’s involvement in a case against him that claims he failed to do “even the most basic attempt at verification.” The defamation case against Steele is playing out in the High Court in London, which is roughly the same as a trial court in the US.
The court case centers around a memo in which Steele accuses Russian technology expert Aleksej Gubarev of clandestinely working for the FSB, Russia’s principal security agency.
The Washington Times, which first reported on the matter, related:
Mr. Steele acknowledges that the part of the 35-page dossier that identified Mr. Gubarev as a rogue hacker came from “unsolicited intelligence” and “raw intelligence” that “needed to be analyzed and further investigated/verified.”
…In his final December dossier memo — his 16th — Mr. Steele accused Mr. Gubarev and his web-hosting companies of hacking the Democratic Party computer networks with pornography and bugging devices. Mr. Gubarev calls the charge fiction and filed a lawsuit in February.
…The fact that Mr. Steele acknowledges that he put unverified “raw intelligence” into his December memo casts further doubt on his research techniques for the entire 35-page dossier.
Steele’s court filing attempts to explain why the information was shared with the U.S. and UK governments.
“The Defendants were under a duty to pass the information in the December memorandum to the senior UK government national security official and Sen. McCain so that it was known to the United Kingdom and United States governments at a high level by persons with responsibility for national security,” the court filing says. “These recipients had a corresponding duty or interest to receive it in their capacities as senior representatives of those governments with such responsibilities.”
Still, the response from Steele says the information was not meant for public consumption.
“The defendants did not provide any of the pre-election memoranda to media organizations or journalists. Nor did they authorize anyone to do so,” Steele stated through his attorney. “Nor did they provide the confidential December memorandum to media organizations or journalists. Nor did they authorize anyone to do so.”
In March, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele to compile the Trump opposition research dossier, raising questions about the document, including whether Steele was ever paid by the FBI at the same time he was paid by Fusion GPS.
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.
In light of the Post report, Grassley last month also sent a letter to the FBI requesting information on whether the agency 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 in the intelligence community, 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 Michael 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.
Meanwhile, the FBI became interested in Carter Page after he “gave a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow institute,” according to a report in the New York Times citing U.S. officials.
However, the Times does not specify exactly what the FBI suspected Page was doing, or even why his speech drew FBI attention.
The Times reported:
That trip last July was a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign, according to current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials.
It is unclear exactly what about Mr. Page’s visit drew the F.B.I.’s interest: meetings he had during his three days in Moscow, intercepted communications of Russian officials speaking about him, or something else.
The Times report reveals that Page was only monitored after he had already left the campaign:
After Mr. Page, 45 — a Navy veteran and businessman who had lived in Moscow for three years — stepped down from the Trump campaign in September, the F.B.I. obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing the authorities to monitor his communications on the suspicion that he was a Russian agent.
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.