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Ex UK Spy Christopher Steele Wrote Explosive Trump Memo

NBC News logo NBC News 1/12/2017 Hans Nichols and Ken Dilanian
A General View Showing the British Secret Intelligence Services Headquarters Also Know As Mi6 at Vauxhall Cross on the South Bank of the Thames Central London on 25 August 2010 © EPA/REX/Shutterstock A General View Showing the British Secret Intelligence Services Headquarters Also Know As Mi6 at Vauxhall Cross on the South Bank of the Thames Central London on 25 August 2010

An explosive 35-page memo on Donald Trump's relationship with Russia, which contains unverified allegations and which Trump called a "complete fabrication" today, was written by a former British intelligence officer working for Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., two people familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Separately, Rohit Kachroo, security editor for NBC News British partner ITV News, reported that his name is Christopher David Steele, a former officer with MI6 who was posted to Moscow in 1990. The memo was originally generated on behalf of Republican opponents of Trumps but was later shopped to the media by Democrats.

Orbis director Christopher Burrows told the Wall Street Journal he wouldn't "confirm or deny" that Orbis had produced the report, and a neighbor of Steele's told the newspaper he would be away for a few days.

A two-page summary of the 35-page memo was included in supporting material prepared for the officials who briefed President-elect Trump on Friday about a U.S. intelligence report on Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential elections, according to multiple officials. However, Trump was not orally briefed on the two-page "annex" outlining the allegations about him, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official with the knowledge of the preparation of the briefing. Trump said he learned the gist of the summary "outside that meeting."

The two-page summary about the unsubstantiated material was made available to the briefers to provide context for Trump should they want to draw a distinction for Trump between analyzed intelligence and unvetted "disinformation," according to the official. The briefers also had available to them unvetted "disinformation" about the Clinton Foundation, though that was not briefed to Trump either.

The existence of the two-page synopsis was first reported by CNN yesterday afternoon. Their decision to report on the synopsis, as well as the publication of the complete 35-page memo by BuzzFeed, was harshly criticized by Trump. (BuzzFeed is partially funded by the parent company of NBC News.) "I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies let any information that turned out to be so false and fake to get out," Trump said a press conference in New York today. "That's something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do."

The memo, which suggested that Trump could be blackmailed by Russian intelligence, was circulated among Trump opponents over the summer and was eventually passed to the FBI. Today, Republican Senator John McCain admitted that he also passed the memorandum to the FBI.

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