Law & the Courts

Christopher Steele Admits Records of Dossier Claims, Interviews with Primary Source Were ‘Wiped in Early January 2017’

A police car drives past an address which has been linked by local media to former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Britain, January 12, 2016. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

Christopher Steele admitted under oath in March that he had no records of his conversations with the primary sub-source for his infamous dossier, contradicting public claims made by his lawyers in December and sowing further doubts amid allegations that Steele relied on Russian disinformation.

According to a transcript of a British court deposition obtained by the Daily Caller, Steele admitted to a lawyer representing three Russian bankers that he had no records to back up the salacious allegations made in his dossier, all of which were fed to him by one “primary sub-source” who allegedly obtained the information from other sources in Russia, none of whom Steele ever met. Steele submitted to the deposition after the Russian bankers sued him for defamation for claiming they made illegal payments to Vladimir Putin in his now infamous dossier.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s December report detailed how the “FBI officials at every level” believed Steele was a reliable source — despite his “primary sub-source” telling them in January 2017 that much of the dossier was not accurate. The IG report also revealed that Steele’s dossier played a “central role” in the FISA applications used to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Following the release of the report, Steele’s lawyers released a statement pushing back on the assessments, saying that Steele’s conversations with his source “were meticulously documented and recorded.”

Using this claim, the lawyer then asked Steele about the records, which the former British spy admitted “no longer exist.”

“As I understand your position, you have no contemporaneous notes or emails, save for your notes of interactions with the FBI; is that right?” the lawyer then asked.

“I believe that is true, yes,” Steele replied. He later elaborated that not only were the documents relating to the Russian bankers deleted, but all other documents underlying his intelligence report “were wiped in early January 2017.”  He also said that communications with Fusion GPS — the firm which funded the dossier — were deleted from his company Orbis’s computer network on January 5, 2017.

Declassified footnotes from the IG report made public earlier this month detailed how the FBI became aware in January 2017 that many of Steele’s allegations relating to the Trump campaign were the product of disinformation produced by Russian intelligence, which knew of Steele’s work as early as July 2016.

“I don’t believe it’s appropriate for him to have been hired to do this,” former National Security Council staffer Fiona Hill said of Steele’s work on the dossier, during closed-door testimony to the House in October. “I almost fell over when I discovered that he was doing this report.”

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