The Senate Intelligence panel made news Wednesday when its leaders said they had been unable to interview the author of the salacious Trump/Russia dossier, but CNN reported Thursday that the special counsel’s team succeeded in meeting with former MI-6 officer Christopher Steele.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met this past summer with the former British spy whose dossier on alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign spawned months of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Information from Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 officer, could help investigators determine whether contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and suspected Russian operatives broke any laws.
The news comes on the heels of recent reports that Mueller’s team was looking into the dossier.
Also notable in CNN’s report is the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, took the dossier more seriously than has previously been thought.
CNN has learned that the FBI and the US intelligence community last year took the Steele dossier more seriously than the agencies have publicly acknowledged. James Clapper, then the director of national intelligence, said in a January 2017 statement that the intelligence community had “not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.”
The intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, and the FBI took Steele’s research seriously enough that they kept it out of a publicly-released January report on Russian meddling in the election in order to not divulge which parts of the dossier they had corroborated and how.
This contrasts with attempts by President Donald Trump and some lawmakers to discredit Steele and the memos he produced.
The dossier, which had been floating around Washington for months, finally came to light publicly when Buzzfeed News published it in January. It has been a source of controversy ever since, with the White House and many GOP lawmakers seeking to dismiss its credibility. Shortly after the dossier went public, Trump tweeted that it was, “Totally made-up facts by sleazebag political operatives […] FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists.”