While scandal after scandal continues to emerge and plague the Trump administration, one scandal has remained throughout it all — that of the president and his team’s possible illegal ties to Russia.
The investigation into these possible ties, as led by special counsel Robert Mueller, has ramped up significantly in recent weeks, perhaps most notably with the early morning execution of a search warrant at former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, home. Now, an ABC News report has revealed another definitely noteworthy development in Mueller’s investigation.
Remember the “Trump dossier”? In early January, Buzzfeed News published a collection of allegations about the then-president elect that included details like that the businessman had allegedly enlisted the services of Russian prostitutes in the very same hotel room that had been used by the Obamas on a state visit to Moscow.
This allegation is relevant not just for sensationalist aspects but because it includes the implication that the Russians have documentation of this and can use it as leverage with the president by releasing it if he doesn’t do their bidding.
These allegations have never been publicly verified — but now ABC is reporting that the person who collected the allegations in the first place, former British spy Christopher Steele, has turned over information about his sources — including names and addresses — to the FBI.
Steele initially feared for his safety in the aftermath of the allegations against the president that he had collected being revealed to the public. However, as the Russia investigation has gone on, Steele has been forced to come out of the shadows and answer the question of where he got his information from.
Besides his reported testimony to the FBI, Steele has also been targeted by the legal teams for Russian nationals named in the allegations he collected. The lawyers for Aleksej Gubarev were, according to ABC, “recently granted approval by Judge Ursula Ungaro of U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida to seek British approval to question Steele under oath as part of their libel suit against Buzzfeed.”
Trump himself has spoken out strongly against the allegations. For example, soon after they were first publicized, the then-president elect called it “all fake news” and “phony stuff” that “didn’t happen.”
These revelations about Steele come on the occasion of the man he worked for in compiling the allegations in question — Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS — testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a closed hearing on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley commented that his committee intended to “pursue details about Mr. Simpson’s role in this event and the creation and circulation of the dossier that started this whole controversy.” It’s the allegations collected by Steele that jumpstarted the widespread suspicions, on the inside and outside of the government, about the Trump team’s possible connections to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
ABC notes that it’s “unclear how much information lawmakers will be able to obtain from Simpson,” since attorneys for his company have indicated that relationships with clients are confidential.
Steele collected the allegations in question after being commissioned to do so by Republican primary opponents of Donald Trump.
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