Ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele has been named as the man behind the controversial dossier alleging hidden connections between Russia and President-Elect Donald Trump. The document contains unverified allegations that Russia is in possession of sex videos starring Trump that could be used to blackmail him. The 35-page dossier, which Trump dismissed as “fake news” in his first press conference since the election, has been circulating among congressional leaders and journalists for months.
Steele, one of the two directors of Orbis Business Intelligence, is a former British MI6 intelligence officer who reportedly worked undercover in Russia in the early '90s. Orbis is a London-based intelligence firm that will “provide strategic advice, mount intelligence-gathering operations and conduct complex, often cross-border investigations” for its customers. Christopher Burrows, the other director of Orbis, has refused to “confirm or deny” whether the company was behind the dossier.
Now that his identity has been revealed, Steele has fled his home in the British countryside, “terrified for his safety.” British journalists have also reported that Steele is afraid that Russia could seek revenge for his revelation of the secrets contained in the dossier. A former British foreign office official, who described Steele as a “very straight guy,” said, “he’s not the sort of person who will simply pass on gossip. If he puts something in a report he believes there’s sufficient credibility in it for it to be worth considering.”
Steele was reportedly hired by Fusion GPS, a D.C.-based research firm, to dig up scandalous information on Trump. The dossier was funded by an anonymous Republican donor hoping to use the information against Trump, but ended up backing out after the President-Elect secured his nomination. The research was then reportedly picked up by an anonymous group of Democrats.
Russia denies that it is has any incriminating information on Donald Trump. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, has said that US intelligence agencies have “not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.” Sir David Omand, former head of the UK's surveillance agency GCHQ, said that he would be “instinctively cautious” about the dossier, which “may well have a core of good reporting but also may be written up for effect.”