Christopher Steele was an agent of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, during the time that he was working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the DNC, according to several current and former US intelligence officials.
Christopher Steele first became known to the American public when Buzzfeed published a now largely debunked dossier that he compiled under the guise of his company, Orbis Business Intelligence, which was working for Fusion GPS as a subcontractor. Orbis was paid $168,000 plus expenses for the compilation of the dossier. Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS, has testified to congress that he did not know that Steele was in contact with Russian intelligence operatives. If Simpson was paying for Steele’s operational expenses, it would seem unlikely that he would not know where he was flying and whom he was meeting with. Although the FBI had previously paid Christopher Steele, they did not pay him in 2016. It remains unclear whether he received payments from other state actors.
Advertisement - story continues below
According to several current FBI Counterintelligence Agents in a position to know, Steele was a known agent of MI6 at the same time that he was working to compile and promulgate the DNC and Hillary Clinton funded dossier. This claim flies in the face of mainstream media reporting, which has claimed that Christopher Steele last worked for MI6 in 2008. The FBI’s counterintelligence division specifically focuses on identifying and tracking the whereabouts of foreign intelligence officers operating inside the United States.
According the FBI counterintelligence officials that I spoke to on the condition of anonymity, Christopher Steele visited MI6’s Washington DC station at least two times during the period that followed his completion of the Trump-Russia dossier. During this period, Steele also met with Yahoo News reporter Michael Isikoff and other mainstream media reporters, specifically with the intention of promulgating the unverified and salacious claims contained in the dossier. The dossier itself, as well as news stories planted by Steele, ultimately became the basis for the FISA warrant issued against Carter Page, a man who briefly worked as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump Campaign.
It remains unknown whether or not British intelligence officials knew of or endorsed Christopher Steele’s meddling in the 2016 election.
During the time that Steele was hastily creating the dossier, he met with several former and current members of Russia’s SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) and FSB (Federal Security Service). Some of these contacts between Steele and Russian intelligence officers took place in Rome and Vienna, but most took place in London, where Britain’s MI5 counterintelligence apparatus would have likely taken notice. According to a former CIA operations officer who agreed to speak to me under the condition of anonymity, local intelligence officials in Rome, Vienna and London would have almost certainly taken notice when Steele met with Russian operatives, and would have passed that information onto their American counterparts. The same source said that Christopher Steele would have been an ideal target for Russian Intelligence, as they aimed to plant disinformation and sow discord in the American political environment.
Advertisement - story continues below
Christopher Steele’s contacts with both Russian and British intelligence operatives during his work on the Trump-Russia dossier suggests that foreign powers, not just Hillary Clinton and the DNC, may have ordered him to meddle in the 2016 election. Previous reporting suggests that the FBI cut ties with Steele in 2016 for the sole reason that he made claims to them that they knew to be false, but it’s now clear that Steele’s contacts with Russian and British intelligence officers had much more to due with it. If Steele was feeding Russian misinformation to the FBI, the media and the FISA Court, that would represent an unprecedented degradation of American democracy and would likely represent a blatant violation of US laws against espionage.