Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who authored the hoax dossier alleging dubious ties between President Donald Trump and Russia, will meet with U.S. officials to discuss his relationship with the FBI, according to a report.
The Times of London, citing a source close to Steele, reports the ex-spy will sit down with officials in London “within weeks.” The report comes days after Reuters broke the news that Steele refused to face questions from Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was recently appointed by Attorney General William Barr to examine the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Despite Steele ruling out cooperation with Durham’s office, a source told Reuters that the former spook may still assist Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz with his review of the FBI’s handling of both the Clinton and Trump investigations.
Steele was hired in 2016 by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS on behalf attorneys for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to dig up dirt on President Trump. the dossier was partly used by the FBI to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil members of the Trump campaign, such as former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page. Bureau officials failed to disclose explicitly to the FISA court that the dossier was funded for by the Clinton campaign and DNC, though officials did indicate that the document was produced as opposition research.
The FBI severed ties with Steele on October 31st, 2016, for disclosing his relationship with the bureau to the media. Authorities told Steele he could no longer “operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI.”
Last month, President Trump gave Barr authority to declassify intelligence materials in relation to the FBI’s Russia probe and ordered several law enforcement agencies, to cooperate with the Durham’s review.
Speaking recently with the Fox News Channel, Barr stated that the Justice Department is reviewing is whether “government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale” at the start of the FBI’s counterintelligence operation against Trump campaign. “I’ve been trying to get answers to the questions, and I’ve found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate, and some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together. In a sense, I have more questions today than when I first started,” the attorney general told interviewer Bill Hemmer.
A spokesperson for Steele’s private investigation outfit, Orbis Business Intelligence, did not issue comment regarding the Times of London’s report.