The Wall Street Journal has reported that the former British spy who prepared the 35-page dossier on Trump is ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele, according to their sources.
The document, which BuzzFeed published on Tuesday, includes allegations of misconduct by President-elect Donald Trump while in Russia, including “perverted sexual acts” in a Moscow hotel room that President Obama and the first lady had previously stayed in. It also alleges that Trump’s campaign staff maintained close connections to Russia during the election and that Russian officials have compromising information on Trump that could be used for blackmail. Trump has denied the allegations, calling the report fake news.
Steele, 52, was an MI6 intelligence officer and was once posted to the U.K.’s Moscow embassy in 1990. He is currently a director at Orbis Business Intelligence, LLC, a private, London-based intelligence firm. His partner, Christopher Burrows, would not “confirm or deny” Steele or Orbis’ involvement in producing the dossier. The company was founded in 2009 by former British intelligence members and conducts “intelligence-gathering operations” and “complex, often cross-border investigations,” its website says.
The Wall Street Journal asserted that “no presidential campaigns or super PACs reported payments to Orbis in their required Federal Election Commission filings.” However, some super PAC did report that they paid limited liability companies, whose true owners are difficult to discern and which are subjected to very loose disclosure requirements, over the course of the presidential campaign. In fact, LLCs are “not required to have a corporate board comprised of a CEO and other C-level executives, and LLCs don’t necessarily have to be organized for profit.” Therefore, they can be useful in concealing political donations, meaning that it’s possible Steele’s firm was hired to compile the dossier by super PACs opposing Trump.
Burrows denied the possibility, however, saying, “We have no political ax to grind.”
While Steele was deemed a reliable source, the many allegations in his report so far remain unsubstantiated. During his press conference, Trump slammed the intelligence community for allowing the dossier to be released, calling it “something that Nazi Germany would have done.”