The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said on Sunday that he wants to meet with former British spy Christopher Steele to review each of the allegations made in the so-called Trump dossier.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” California Rep. Adam Schiff said that he would be willing to travel to London to meet with Steele, a retired MI6 agent who was hired by a Washington, D.C. opposition firm last June to investigate any Trump ties to Russia.
“We would like to have him come before the committee. If he’s not willing to do that, we would be happy, Mr. Conaway and myself, to go to London to sit down with him,” Schiff said, referring to Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, the Republican overseeing the committee’s Russia investigation.
“He does have, I think, certainly very relevant information that would assist our investigation. We want to do this certainly in a cooperative way,” Schiff said of Steele, who operates the research firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, in London.
Steele was hired last June by opposition research firm Fusion GPS. Founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS was investigating Trump on behalf of a political ally of Hillary Clinton’s.
The 35-page dossier, which was published by BuzzFeed News in January, makes numerous uncorroborated allegations about Trump and members of his campaign. The most sensational claim in the first memo of the dossier, dated June 20, 2016, is that Kremlin operatives have video recordings of Trump with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel.
Steele’s unnamed sources claimed that the Kremlin was attempting to cultivate Trump. Other memos in the dossier allege that Trump campaign members met in secret with Russian operatives to discuss ways to sway the election in Trump’s favor.
Trump has emphatically denied the dossier allegations, saying that he did not hire prostitutes in Russia or collude with the Kremlin.
But Schiff said Sunday that the dossier has taken on new significance in light of the revelation that Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met with a group of Russians in Trump Tower last June.
“We want to look at each of the allegations within the so-called dossier, and particularly look at them now in light of what we know from that Don Jr. meeting about the intent of the campaign to get Russian help,” Schiff said.
Steele’s June 20 memo vaguely describes what may have occurred in the Trump Tower meeting.
Citing “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin,” Steele wrote that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.”
Eleven days before that memo was written, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet military officer who now works as a political operative in Washington, D.C.
Trump Jr. accepted the meeting after being offered derogatory information about Hillary Clinton. He was told by an acquaintance that a “Russian government attorney” would be providing the information, which was being provided by Russia’s top government prosecutor.
Steele’s sourcing for the dossier would be key to determining its veracity.
Because he is unable to operate in Russia because of his previous spy career, Steele reportedly gathered information laid out in the dossier by paying intermediaries who spoke to Russian sources.
The dossier does not identify sources by name. Instead, Steele refers to them as “Source A,” “Source B,” etc., or by describing their connections to the Russian government.
But some analysts have suggested that Steele’s sources could have purposely planted disinformation about Trump and about Russian efforts to meddle in the campaign.
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