According to the Independent, a former MI6 agent alleges that the FBI, for months, held on to damaging evidence regarding President-elect Donald Trump.
Christopher Steele, who left MI6 to join a private organization, was apparently so upset over Trump’s victory that he worked for free in order to continue his investigation into the real estate developer.
Steele says he had been hired by Trump’s political opponents, but turned his findings over to both British and U.S. intelligence officials because he became convinced that Trump was a threat to the security of both countries.
Over time, however, sources say that Steele became increasingly frustrated with the FBI’s lack of movement on the intelligence provided by him and others. He began to believe that there was a conspiracy at work and that a group within the FBI was working to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
Steele isn’t the only person who feels that way. Glenn Simpson is a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and currently runs Fusion GPS. In June of 2016, Steele was hired to join the team. The next month, Trump was declared the Republican nominee. It was at this time, that Steele sent his information to the FBI.
There have been some doubts regarding the validity of the memo recently released by BuzzFeed, but Steele’s initial report to the FBI appears to, at least, have some truth to it. His report warned the FBI that Trump had agreed help smooth over Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.
Four days after Steele sent that report to the FBI, Trump announced that he would recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea. One month after Trump made that statement, campaign officials had the party’s platform altered in order to remove language concerning a pledge to offer military assistance to the Ukrainian government’s efforts to defeat pro-Russia separatist movements in the country.
According to Steele, these shifts in policy were part of an agreement between Russia and Trump. In exchange for Trump’s support on these issues, Russia would hack the DNC’s server and release Clinton’s emails. If Steele has proof of these claims, it has not been made public, but the timing is interesting. The very same day Trump spoke out regarding Crimea was the day he publicly called upon Russia to hack Clinton’s emails.
By September, Steele was growing increasingly frustrated with the FBI’s lack of action regarding Trump. He compiled all of his findings into a single memo and passed it along to both his contacts within the bureau, but nothing was done. The FBI seemed more interested in investigating Clinton’s use of a private email server than Trump’s possible ties to Russia.
Trump’s victory in November meant that the Democratic Party no longer needed Steele’s services, but he continued his investigation into Trump. He and Simpson were hoping that the investigation regarding the hacked emails would lead to a wider investigation of Trump.
It’s at this point that two other players enter the picture. Sir Andrew Wood was a British ambassador to Russia and is widely considered an expert on Russian affairs. While at a security conference in Canada, he met Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The former Republican presidential nominee had been hearing troubling rumors about Trump’s ties to Russia.
Wood said that he had not read Steele’s dossier, but vouched for him as a highly-respected professional within the intelligence community. McCain sent an employee to London to retrieve the dossier from Steele. McCain then personally gave the file to FBI Director James Comey.
Both President Obama and President-elect Trump were briefed about the contents of the Steele’s file, but Trump never publicly acknowledged them until they were published this week. His response was, of course, to call Steele a liar.
No independent news organization has been able to verify Steele’s claims, but regardless of their validity, it is troubling that the FBI never took his claims seriously despite his reputation within the intelligence community. Unfortunately, with Trump set to take office in less than a week, it’s unlikely that we’ll see an investigation anytime soon.
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