Business Insider | 05Mar2018 | Michal Kranz
A new report contains
details about Christopher Steele,
The article by Jane Mayer in the 12Mar2018 issue of The New Yorker and
the Steele Dossier published on 10Jan2017 by BuzzFeed are archived on
the author of the Trump-Russia dossier
Former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the controversial dossier
alleging coordination between Trump campaign associates and Russian
officials, has long sought to keep private details about his life. But
a sprawling new profile of the former MI6 operative from
The New Yorker provides new information on Steele's research
on President Donald Trump.
From a bombshell claim about Moscow's role in picking Trump's
Cabinet members to information on Steele's life at home with his three
cats, here are some of the intriguing new details about the mystery
- On Russia having an alleged say in Trump's
Cabinet picks: A memo Steele wrote in late November 2016
claimed that the Kremlin asked Trump not to nominate former
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for secretary of state, instead wanting
him to nominate someone who was less hawkish on Russia. Trump
officially dropped Romney from consideration for the position in
December 2016, selecting former ExxonMobil executive Rex Tillerson.
- On US intelligence agencies knowing about
Trump's Russia contacts: In August 2016, according to
The New Yorker, the head of a British intelligence agency briefed
then-CIA director John Brennan on intercepted communications between
Trump's campaign and Moscow. Shortly afterward, the CIA received
intelligence on Russian President Vladimir Putin's personal involvement
in Russian election interference.
- On Trump's alleged connections to organized
crime: While investigating international corruption at
FIFA, Steele learned that FIFA official Chuck Blazer, who had embezzled
a massive amount of money from the soccer organization, had an
expensive apartment in Trump Tower. He later discovered that a gambling
and money laundering ring headed by a prominent Russian mobster was
also run out of an apartment on Trump's property, according to The New
Yorker. After Interpol called for the man's arrest, he was seen sitting
near Trump at a Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, which Trump
was responsible for running. "It was as if all criminal roads led to
Trump Tower," Steele told friends at the time.
- On Russia's influence operations in Europe:
A few months before starting research on Trump, Steele had worked on a
wide-ranging intelligence gathering operation called Project
Charlemagne. As part of the project, he detailed Russia's social media
influence and election interference campaigns in Europe that mirrored
what Russia was doing in the US ahead of the 2016 election. Russia had
attempted to bolster right-wing voices and France, Italy, the United
Kingdom, Turkey, and Germany, and often gave politicians and right-wing
leaders gifts and financial support. Some of the politicians mentioned
in Steele's research have denied his allegations.
- On Steele's work on ISIS:
Steele had long known about ISIS militants using the flow of refugees
from Syria and other parts of the Middle East to enter Europe. Although
he shared this intelligence with Germany, following the November 2015
Paris attacks, he said he regretted not sharing it with France as well.
- On Steele's personal politics:
Steele was a supporter of the center-left Labour Party and was part of
a faction in his debate club at Cambridge University called the
Anti-Establishment Faction. One of Steele's friends at university
summed up his political views: "He's not
an ideologue," the friend said. "He's got his political views, but he's
a pragmatic thinker. Fairness, integrity, and truth, for him, trump any
ideology." Later on, individuals close to Steele said he was disturbed
by the UK's decision to leave the EU in 2016.
- On how Steele began investigating Trump:
Fusion GPS CEO Glenn Simpson was reportedly bothered by why Trump had
repeatedly sought business deals in Russia but always came back with
nothing to show for it. Steele was also interested in this question,
and began doing research on Trump as a result.
- On Steele's communications with the US
government before 2016: In 2008 and 2009, Steele's
research on Russia was used to brief then-CIA director Michael Hayden
and former President Barack Obama. Steele met with Hayden in person,
and a report Steele authored on Russia was given to Obama, who was
visiting the UK at the time.
- On the profits of his private intelligence
company: The private intelligence firm Steele founded
after leaving MI6 in 2009, Orbis Business Intelligence, reportedly made
around $20 million between its founding and 2018.
- On his relationship with the Russians:
In 2012, an Orbis employee said a member of Russia's Foreign Security
Service (FSB) had called Steele "an enemy of Mother Russia," according
to the report.
- On his private life: Steele
spends much of his free time with his family. He has three children,
and also three cats. One of his cats recently wet one of his family's
beds — which, as The New Yorker noted, mirrored an infamous claim from
the Trump-Russia dossier.