Chuck Ross on January 7, 2020
Christopher Steele made his first public appearance Monday since the release of a Justice Department report casting doubt on the Trump dossier, moderating a discussion of the documentary “The Great Hack” hosted by actor Colin Firth.
The event was just Steele’s second public appearance in the three years since BuzzFeed News published the dossier online. Steele has laid low during the course of the special counsel’s investigation and a Justice Department inspector general’s (IG) probe that scrutinized the FBI’s handling of the dossier.
Carole Cadwalladr, a journalist for The Guardian who has covered Cambridge Analytica, the subject of “The Great Hack,” and Ryan Fox, an executive at the firm New Knowledge, also took part in the panel discussion with Steele.
New Knowledge was embroiled in scandal in 2019 after The New York Times reported that the cyber analytics firm posted fake social media content aimed at potential voters in the 2017 Alabama Senate special election.
Steele and New Knowledge worked in 2017 and 2018 with a non-profit group called The Democracy Integrity Project.
Both the special counsel report and the IG report undercut Steele’s chief allegation of a vast conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The IG report, released Dec. 9, 2019, said the FBI was unable to corroborate any of Steele’s allegations about a Trump-Russia conspiracy before using the salacious document in applications for surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The report also stated Steele’s main source of information told FBI agents in January 2017 that the ex-spy exaggerated or misrepresented information attributed to him in the dossier. Steele himself told his FBI contacts in October 2016 that a sub-source for the dossier was a “boaster” and “embellisher.”
The IG report also said Steele’s allegation that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet Kremlin operatives to discuss paying off hackers was “not true.”
Steele has only commented publicly once since the dossier was published. On March 7, 2017, he gave a brief statement outside of his firm’s offices in London.
Steele has yet to publicly address his work on the dossier, or the findings of the special counsel and inspector general’s investigations. He reportedly told associates he still believes that 70% of his dossier is accurate. Which parts he believes are true remains unclear.
Steele, 55, was hired in June 2016 by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign and DNC to dig up dirt on Donald Trump.
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