The former British spy who authored the now-infamous dossier on Donald Trump, alleging ties between Trump and Russia, reportedly reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work. The agreement to compensate M16 agent Christopher Steele for his findings came as intelligence agencies reached a controversial consensus that Russians had interfered in the election by hacking liberals’ email accounts.
Trump was quick to assure the public that the dossier was simply “fake news.” After the dossier went public, communications between the FBI and the former spy were ceased—and he was never paid according to plan.
Still, the relationship is extremely questionable, especially given that the FBI had previously hired Steele to help a U.S. inquiry in FIFA. Steele had more than two decades working on Russia-related issues for British intelligence. But his dossier was widely unsubstantiated. His claims remain unverified, and they have been strongly disputed by Trump and his team.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has confessed that he has seen “no evidence so far” of Trump campaign contacts with Russia. The revelation that the FBI agreed to pay Steele only further damages his credibility.
Steele was reportedly frustrated when FBI Director James Comey made a public announcement that they were investing a new batch of Clinton emails just 11 days before the election.
In January, Trump was provided a summary of the core allegations of Steele’s dossier—and news of that briefing was soon public knowledge. BuzzFeed became the source of controversy when they posted a copy of Steele’s dossier online—without any evidence of its truth.
“It’s all fake news,” Trump said. “It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen.”
Trump later tweeted that Steele was a “fake spy.” Democrats in the House have reached out to Steele since this has unfolded, to determine whether he is willing to testify or cooperate. He has not responded.
This is a key example of America’s intelligence agencies losing their credibility—and Comey remains in the line of fire for his extraordinarily poor judgment.