Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy who tried to influence the US election, wants UK to beef up its foreign influence laws
Chuck Ross, DCNF
Christopher Steele, the former British spy who peddled a dossier about Donald Trump in an effort to influence the result of the 2016 presidential election, wants the British government to beef up regulation of foreigners who try to influence U.K. politics.
In an interview with the BBC, Steele said that the U.K. lags behind its allies, including the United States, in requiring foreign agents to disclose their influence and lobbying activities.
“The word is out that that we’re a bit of a soft touch — that we don’t have regulators with teeth and we don’t have legislation which is up to date and fit for purpose,” Steele told the BBC.
“There’s a lack of transparency in Britain about the way in which foreign actors, and particularly those emanating from authoritarian states, are exerting influence over our policies,” said Steele, who retired from MI6 in 2009 and formed a private intelligence firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.
The U.S. government requires people working on behalf of foreign governments or entities affiliated with foreign governments to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which was enacted to track German propaganda prior to World War II.
Steele has been accused of pushing propaganda himself prior to the 2016 election.
The ex-spy was hired in June 2016 by Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C. consulting firm, to investigate Donald Trump and his campaign. Fusion was working at the time for the law firm that represented the Clinton campaign and DNC.
Steele would compile a series of memos derived from a single source, Igor Danchenko, that claimed that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Steele actively circulated his allegations to the U.S. media and the U.S. government.
He met with several prominent American journalists at Fusion GPS’s request. He also arranged meetings with State Department officials to share details of his investigation.
Steele, who had worked as a confidential source for the FBI, also provided his contacts at the bureau with portions of his dossier. The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s information to obtain warrants to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Bruce Ohr, a now-former Justice Department official, told FBI agents that Steele told him in September 2016 that he was “desperate” to see Trump lose the 2016 presidential election.
Steele’s most significant allegations about Trump and the campaign remain either unverified or have been debunked.
Reports from Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Justice Department’s inspector general undermined Steele’s chief theory that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. The reports also undercut Steele’s allegation that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin insiders.
A footnote from the IG’s report said that Russian intelligence operatives may have fed disinformation to Steele through his dossier sources.
Before the dossier project, Steele worked on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.
Neither Steele nor Fusion GPS have registered any of their activities under FARA. Deripaska’s companies have registered under FARA in recent years.