Christopher Steele, former British intelligence officer in London Tuesday March 7, 2017 where he has spoken to the media for the first time . Steele who compiled an explosive and unproven dossier on President Donald Trump’s purported activities in Russia has returned to work. Christopher Steele said Tuesday he is “really pleased” to be back at work in London after a prolonged period out of public view. He went into hiding in January. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
According to Reuters, dossier author Christopher Steele, has refused to speak to John Durham, whom Attorney General William Barr appointed recently to lead the investigation into the origins of the Russia collusion probe.
Reuters is reporting that a source close to Orbis Business Intelligence, Steele’s London-based private investigation firm, informed them that the former British spy is unwilling to answer questions.
No one can possibly be surprised by this. Steele is about as likely to cooperate voluntarily with Durham as Trump is to turn over his tax returns.
Unlike DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Durham does have the power to subpoena. It’s safe to say that sooner or later, Steele will be forced to open up about his involvement. And his involvement runs deep.
He was hired by Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson in April 2016 to create the package of lies about interaction between candidate Donald Trump and several members of his campaign and the Russians. The dossier lies at the heart of the plot to bring down first the candidate, and ultimately the President.
Interestingly, Steele was hired by the FBI in February of 2016.
After Steele broke one of the FBI’s main rules of admonishment by speaking with the media, the FBI fired him. But they waited until they had used his bogus dossier as the basis for their application to the FISA Court for the first warrant to spy on Trump campaign advisor Carter Page before doing so. Yet, the FBI continued to receive his “information” through DOJ official Bruce Ohr, who served as a backchannel.
Moreover, Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, who was fluent in Russian, was also hired by Fusion GPS as an independent contractor to conduct research on Trump family members.
She even provided her research to several of her husband’s colleagues at the DOJ. It’s hard to keep track of all the interconnections.
Surprisingly, Bruce Ohr was one of the more forthcoming witnesses when he was called to testify before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees last August.
One of the most significant pieces of information to come from Ohr’s testimony is that he told all the FBI officials (Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and others) he spoke to in early August 2016, that the dossier was unverified and that Steele harbored tremendous hatred toward Trump. He also briefed at least two DOJ officials. The first was Andrew Weissmann, who eventually became the lead investigator on Mueller’s special counsel team. The other was Zainab Ahmad who was assigned to the Mueller team as well.
Ohr had been the 4th ranking DOJ official at the time, but subsequently received two demotions when his work with Steele and the FBI had been revealed.
Fortunately, Durham and his team can learn a great deal about the events that transpired inside the Obama intelligence agencies from the treasure trove of documents which will soon be declassified. Trump’s order to release this material and his simultaneous request that all intelligence agency officials cooperate fully with Barr and his designated investigators will simplify and speed up the process.
Steele played an enormous role in the conspiracy and it’s a pretty safe bet that, eventually, he will be forced to answer questions.