Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, who authored a controversial dossier regarding Donald Trump’s Russian influence scandal, has a sterling reputation in the world of espionage — and his work is becoming more credible all the time.
In fact, the New York Times reported yesterday that 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.”
“The agreement to compensate former MI6 agent Christopher Steele came as U.S. intelligence agencies reached a consensus that the Russians had interfered in the presidential election by orchestrating hacks of Democratic Party email accounts,” the NYT says.
But the arrangement fell through after Steele became frustrated with the bureau’s slow response and his reports became a topic of public discussion. Steele’s dossier was finally published in January, whereupon it was immediately attacked as a fraud.
The Times story adds to the evidence that Steele is hardly a “failed spy,” as Trump says, and that his dossier is more fact than fiction.
Sources in the FBI told CBS News in February that intercepted high-level Russian communications substantiate many of Steele’s claims about Kremlin conversations.
Though he has changed his story at least five times so far, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted to an intermediary role in delivering a “peace proposal” formulated by a pro-Russian politician in Ukraine and a Trump associate with deep ties to the Russian mob.
It’s not quite the meeting in Prague that was described to one of Steele’s sources, but it does confirm a Russian interest in Cohen, who does indeed have Ukrainian connections. And the specificity of the Prague mention, as well as its timing, suggests it may be a Russian disinformation effort anyway.
The same may be true of the most salacious detail in Steele’s dossier. It would hardly be unusual for Russian mafia and intelligence operatives to have recorded Donald Trump with an eye towards obtaining compromising material, and Steele is not the only high-level source making the claim that they did.
But the overly-precise and lurid description of “golden showers” given to Steele’s source could very well be further disinformation put out to discredit his reports.
Steele says that the Trump campaign communicated with Russian intelligence agents. The Russians say they kept in touch with the Trump campaign. And sources in intelligence and law enforcement tell the New York Times that the Trump campaign was in regular contact with Russian agents.
Donald Trump and his team are the only people claiming otherwise. Whereas Mr. Steele’s credibility has grown, their credibility seems far more suspect.
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