While we learned earlier today that John McCain was responsible for handing over the 35-page “dossier” of compromising, if potentially fake, revelations about Trump’s connections to Russia to the FBI, the identity of the actual creator, who was said to be an ex-British intelligence service, remained a mystery.
Courtesy of the WSJ, we now know his name: the former British intelligence officer now working for a private security-and-investigations firm “who produced the dossier of unverified allegations about President-elect Donald Trump’s activities and connections in Russia” is Christopher Steele, a director of London-based Orbis Business Intelligence…. and before readers google him, beware, there is a male gay porn star with the same name.
The real Chris Steele is profiled below, courtesy of LinkedIn.
Steele, 52 years old, is one of two directors of Orbis, along with Christopher Burrows, 58. Burrows, reached at his home outside London on Wednesday, said he wouldn’t “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the report. A neighbor of Mr. Steele’s said Mr. Steele said he would be away for a few days. In previous weeks Mr. Steele has declined repeated requests for interviews through an intermediary, who said the subject was “too hot.”
According to Steele’s LinkedIn profile, at least before he quickly scrubbed it, says he was a counselor in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with foreign postings in Brussels and New Delhi in the 2000s. The Foreign Office declined to comment. According to the WSI, the LinkedIn profile for Mr. Steele doesn’t give specifics about his career, however notes that intelligence officers often use diplomatic postings as cover for their espionage activities. That, or they are dumb enough to actually reveal where they are stationed.
Some more details courtesy of the WSJ:
Orbis Business Intelligence was formed in 2009 by former British intelligence professionals, it says on its website. U.K. corporate records say Orbis is owned by another company that in turn is jointly owned by Messrs. Steele and Burrows. It occupies offices in an ornate building overlooking Grosvenor Gardens in London’s high-end Belgravia neighborhood.
The firm relies on a “global network” of experts and business leaders, provides clients with strategic advice, mounts “intelligence-gathering operations” and conducts “complex, often cross-border investigations,” its website says.
The dossier consists of a series of unsigned memos that appear to have been written between June and December 2016. Beyond creating the document, Mr. Steele also came up with a plan to get the information to law-enforcement officials in the U.S. and Europe, including the F.B.I., according to a person familiar with the matter.
The WSJ adds that “the author of the report had a good reputation in the intelligence world and was stationed in Russia for years, said John Sipher, who retired in 2014 after 28 years in the CIA’s clandestine service, where he specialized in Russia and counterintelligence.”
Private-intelligence firms like Orbis have a growing presence. Major corporations use them to conduct due diligence on potential business partners in risky areas, but quality control can be loose when it comes to high-level political intrigue, according to executives of private intelligence companies. It appears they are also used to smear potential presidential candidates, not to mention president-elects.