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Ex-spy behind Trump dossier identified: report

The Hill logo The Hill 1/11/2017 Mark Hensch
Ex-spy behind Trump dossier identified: report © The Hill Ex-spy behind Trump dossier identified: report

A former British intelligence officer who prepared a dossier about President-elect Donald Trump's ties with Russia has been identified, according to a new report.

Christopher Steele created the controversial document about the Russian government's power over Trump, The Wall Street Journal said Wednesday.

The Journal said Steele is now a director at a private security and investigations firm in London.

Steele, 52, is one of two directors at Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., people familiar with the matter told the newspaper.

Orbis was formed in 2009 by former British intelligence professionals, according to the firm's website. The company mounts "intelligence-gathering operations" and conducts "complex, often cross-border investigations."

A source told the Journal that Steele created the dossier, which is a series of unsigned memos seemingly written between June and December 2016.

Steele also devised a plan for disseminating the document to U.S. and European law enforcement officials, they added, including the FBI.

The Journal added Orbis' other co-director is Christopher Burrows, 58, a former counselor in Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth office.

Burrows told the publication he would not "confirm or deny" Orbis had a role in the report.

"We have no political ax to grind," he said, adding Orbis "sees what's out there first" when conducting an investigation and then performs a "stress test" on its results.

CNN reported Tuesday, meanwhile, that top intelligence officials presented Trump a two-page synopsis of the dossier last week.

The document was reportedly attached as an appendix to the intelligence community's report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.

The controversial dossier alleges the Russian government possesses compromising financial and personal information about Trump. It also claims key figures in Trump's orbit kept touch with Moscow during last year's presidential campaign.

U.S. intelligence officials have not verified the explosive details, however, and it remains unclear how reliable they are.

Trump on Wednesday, meanwhile, fiercely criticized the dossier's leak to media outlets.

"I think it was disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake [to get out]," he said at Trump Tower in New York City.

"That's something that Nazi German would have done and did do," Trump added during his first press conference as the preside-elect.

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