Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele has finally agreed to meet with US officials to discuss his relationship with the FBI, and the now-infamous dossier of unfounded claims against Donald Trump which he assembled on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The 54-year-old Steele has agreed to meet with investigators from the US Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General (OIG), according to The Times of London, after a former US official told Politico that the OIG report would "try to deeply undermine" Steele.
The news marks a 180-shift in Steele's past refusals to engage with US authorities. In April, Politico reported that Steele would not meet with the OIG to assist them with their investigation, while just last week, Reuters reported that he wouldn't meet with US attorney John Durham, who was handpicked by AG William Barr to review the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
Steele, a MI6 Russia specialist for more than two-decades, has worked with the FBI as a confidential source since 2010. According to the report, he will retain the services of a top American attorney if the interview goes ahead, and is only willing to discuss the narrow scope of his dealings with US intelligence. Steele also wanted US officials to seek the approval of the British government.
Of note, the Steele dossier was referred to as "Crown material" in emails between US intelligence officials.
That said, a senior source told The Times: "As far as we are aware, no request has been made to HMG [Her Majesty’s government] on this matter. Any decision to co-operate would be a matter for Mr Steele as this relates to issues arising many years after he left government employment."
Last year Mr Steele, who runs a corporate intelligence company, was named as the author of memos containing unsubstantiated allegations that the Kremlin held sexually lurid information about Mr Trump.
Mr Steele’s dossier led to an FBI inquiry, which became a two-year investigation presided over by the special counsel Robert Mueller. That found that figures in the Trump campaign team expected to benefit from Kremlin activities but cleared Mr Trump of liaising with Russia. -Times of London
In his dodgy dossier - a collection of 17 memos, some of which used Kremlin sources - Steele claimed that the Trump campaign was part of a "well-developed conspiracy of co-operation" with the Russian government in an attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 US election. Steele claimed that the Kremlin was blackmailing Trump with a video of him encouraging prostitutes to urinate on a bed once used by former President Obama.
Steele's work was commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which was in turn paid by lawyers for the Clinton campaign and the DNC.