The former British spy who compiled a 35-page dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government has acknowledged for the first time that the document contains “unverified” information.
Christopher Steele, a former MI6 agent, disclosed that information in a court filing in the United Kingdom in response to a lawsuit filed by a Russian tech executive who says he is falsely accused in the dossier of running a computer hacking operation against the Democratic party.
The Washington Times reports that Steele says in the fling that the Dec. 13 memo identifying the tech executive, Aleksej Gubarev, was written based on “unsolicited” and “raw” intelligence which “needed to be analyzed and further investigated/verified.”
That memo, the last of 17 that make up the dossier, alleges that Gubarev’s companies, Webzilla and XBT Holdings, operated a porn bot network aimed at infiltrating the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign.
Gubarev’s name appeared in a version of the dossier published online by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10. Gubarev sued Steele in London, where the ex-spy operates the private research company Orbis Business Intelligence. He also sued BuzzFeed and its editor-in-chief, Ben Smith. The website apologized to Gubarev and redacted his name from the dossier published on its site.
Steele criticizes BuzzFeed and his client, Fusion GPS, in the court filing, according to The Washington Times.
Fusion GPS hired Steele in June to conduct research on Trump’s business dealings in Russia. Fusion GPS, in turn, was working for a Democratic ally of Hillary Clinton’s. The identity of Fusion’s client has still not been disclosed.
In the court filing, Steele’s lawyers say that former spy did not provide the dossier to media outlets or journalists.
“At all material times Fusion was subject to an obligation not to disclose to third parties confidential intelligence material” that was provided by Steele, the filings state, according to The Times.
The filing does note that Steele held several off-the-record meetings with journalists in late summer and autumn of last year.
One of those reporters is Mother Jones’ David Corn. Corn published an article in late October laying out in very general terms some of Steele’s findings.
At least one other reporter, the BBC’s Paul Wood, has said he viewed the dossier before it was published by BuzzFeed. Wood has reported that Fusion GPS was his source.
Steele’s admission that at least one of the memos he wrote is unverified raises questions about the other parts of the dossier, which contains salacious claims about Trump.