British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele Identified As Author of Trump “Golden Shower” Russia Dossier

A former British intelligence officer who is now a director of a private security-and-investigations firm has been identified as the author of the dossier of unverified allegations about President-elect Donald Trump’s activities and connections in Russia, people familiar with the matter say.

Christopher Steele, a director of London-based Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., prepared the dossier, the people said. The document alleges that the Kremlin colluded with Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and claims that Russian officials have compromising evidence of Mr. Trump’s behavior that could be used to blackmail him. Mr. Trump has dismissed the dossier’s contents as false and Russia has denied the claims.

Mr. Steele, 52 years old, is one of two directors of the firm, along with Christopher Burrows, 58.

Mr. 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.”

A LinkedIn profile in Mr. Burrows’s name 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. A LinkedIn profile for Mr. Steele doesn’t give specifics about his career. Intelligence officers often use diplomatic postings as cover for their espionage activities.

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 to provide clients with strategic advice, mount “intelligence-gathering operations” and conduct “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 devised a plan to get the information to law-enforcement officials in the U.S. and Europe, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“We have no political ax to grind,” Mr. Burrows said, speaking about corporate-intelligence work in general terms. He said when clients asked a firm like Orbis to investigate something, you “see what’s out there” first and later “stress test” your findings against other evidence.

No presidential campaigns or super PACs reported payments to Orbis in their required Federal Election Commission filings. But several super PACs over the course of the campaign reported that they paid limited liability companies, whose ultimate owners may be difficult or impossible to discern.

The dossier’s emergence—it was published online and widely circulated Tuesday—has generated a firestorm less than 10 days before Mr. Trump’s inauguration. U.S. officials have examined the allegations but haven’t confirmed any of them. The Wall Street Journal also hasn’t corroborated any of the allegations in the dossier.

“It’s all fake news,” Mr. Trump said in a news conference Wednesday. “It’s all phony stuff. It didn’t happen.”

The dossier contains lurid and hard-to-prove allegations. The FBI has found no evidence, for example, supporting the dossier’s claim that an attorney for Mr. Trump went to the Czech Republic to meet Kremlin officials, U.S. officials said. The attorney has also denied the claim.

The allegations in the document, while unsubstantiated, provoked concern in official circles in Washington. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he received a copy of the document late last year and forwarded it to the FBI.

“Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the director of the FBI,” Mr. McCain said.

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. Mr. Sipher is now director of client services at CrossLead Inc., a Washington-based technology company set up by retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

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, executives of private intelligence companies say.

When government intelligence agencies produce clandestine political reports, they often include thick sections about sources, possible motivations behind their information and the methods used to approach them. Such background helps decision makers determine how reliable the information is.

Andrew Wordsworth, co-founder of London-based investigations firm Raedas, who often works on Russian issues, said the memos in the Trump dossier were “not convincing at all.”“It’s just way too good,” he said. “If the head of the CIA were to declare he got information of this quality, you wouldn’t believe it.”Mr. Wordsworth said it wouldn’t make sense for Russian intelligence officials to expose state secrets to an ex- former MI-6 officer. “Russians believe once you are an agent, you’re an agent forever,” he said.


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