A new inspector general's report quotes Christopher Steele as saying he had been 'favorably disposed' toward the Trump family before he began researching them.
The long-awaited report from Department of Justice inspector general Michael Horowitz's on the origins of the FBI's investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin's regime included a surprising debunk of a right-wing talking point. Christopher Steele, the investigator whose dossier was a key factor in the decision to open the Russia investigation, revealed to investigators that he was "friendly" with Ivanka Trump.
According to the Horowitz report, Steele defended his Fusion GPS investigation into Trump as unbiased, as Trump and his defenders have claimed. "Steele called the allegation that he was biased against Trump from the start 'ridiculous.' He stated that if anything he was 'favorably disposed' toward the Trump family before he began his research because he had 'visited a Trump family member at Trump Tower and 'been friendly' with [the family member] for some years," the report notes, adding that Steele "described their relationship as 'personal' and said that he once gifted a family tartan from Scotland to the family member."
ABC News reported on Monday that it had confirmed the Trump in question was Ivanka. Steele, a former British intelligence official who once worked for the FBI, reportedly met Trump's oldest daughter and current White House adviser in 2007 at a London dinner. Their reporting found she invited Steele to Trump Tower in 2010 to discuss a possible job researching for due diligence efforts.
Steele's firm, Fusion GPS, was hired in 2015 by the Washington Free Beacon — a right-wing political website bankrolled by conservative megadonor and Marco Rubio-backer Paul Singer — to find dirt on 2016 GOP candidates, including Trump. In Spring 2016, the Free Beacon ended the deal and Democratic operatives engaged the firm to continue to investigate the man who would soon be the GOP nominee.
Steele's investigation resulted in a compilation of allegations regarding the behavior of the Russian government, Trump, and the Trump presidential campaign. These allegations included some since-corroborated claims, including that Putin was actively trying to help Trump over Hillary Clinton and that Trump's campaign officials had several secret contacts with Russians — as well as some uncorroborated allegations about Trump's personal behavior.
Trump and his defenders falsely claimed that this dossier was the reason for the FBI's Russian counterintelligence investigation.
Horowitz investigated these and other conspiracies and determined that the investigation was legitimate. While he found some errors by intelligence officials, he also found evidence that many FBI agents were biased in favor of Trump, against Clinton.
Trump and his attorney general both denounced Horowitz's findings on Monday, though Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) reportedly praised it as a vindication of Trump.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.