Spygate, Part #2: Christopher Steele
Born in June 1964, Christopher Steele is a former spy at the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, also known as MI6). He has been described as a real life version of James Bond by his friend and former colleague, Rupert Allason, also known as Nigel West. He has numerous intelligence contacts all over the world, including a professional relationship with Strobe Talbott.
For this article, we will be focusing on the man, not the dossier. We’ll deal with the dossier — and its range — later.
At some point, Steele became acquainted with Stephen Parkinson, the future adviser to Prime Minister Theresa May. Parkinson would later write about Steele, briefly, in his book “Arena of Ambition: A History of the Cambridge Union”, which was published on May 14, 2009.
In 1985, Christopher Steele had his photograph taken with DJ Paul Gambaccini, Chris Serle and Lance Forman. In the first month, January, he attended a standing committee at the Cambridge Union Society.
In 1986, Steele had another photograph taken, this time with Ray Whitney MP, Professor Colin Renfrew, Ambassador Peter Jay, Senator Larry Pressler, Bryan Gould MP and Home Secretary Jack Straw. That spring, he was elected as the President of the Cambridge Union Society, directly opposite to future Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whom was President of the Oxford Union Society.
In 1987, Steele was recruited into the Secret Intelligence Service.
On August 19, 1991, Steele found himself on the streets of Moscow, investigating the situation surrounding the coup d’etat against Boris Yeltsin, monitoring Yeltsin’s tank speech.
Nearly two years later, in April 1993, Steele left Moscow, Russia, as he was returned back to the Secret Intelligence Service’s London Station for a few years. In 1996, Steele and Laura had their first child.
In 1998, Steele and his family relocated to Paris, France, where he worked at the British Embassy, but the next year, a list of active Secret Intelligence Service agents was leaked and published, which outed Steele’s identity across the world, including Russia. As such, internally to the service, he was no longer allowed to visit the country.
In 2002, Steele finished his work at the British Embassy in Paris and returned back to the London Station.
Four years later, in 2006, Steele met Bruce Ohr.
On November 1, 2006, Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned, and Steele was chosen to investigate the poisoning, as he was the only person with minimal relations with Litvinenko in the service.
In 2008, Steele met Director Michael Hayden, as Director Hayden visited the United Kingdom, where Steele briefed him on developments in Russia. Steele also notified his colleagues at the Secret Intelligence Service that he intended to leave the business and open a new company with colleague Christopher Burrows.
In 2009, Steele met Jonathan Winer for the first time. Steele was also introduced to Glenn Simpson through a mutual friend, aware of both of their interests in Russian organised crime. Simpson and Steele had mutual contacts at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Steele also made his final visit to a former Soviet Union state the same year.
In April 2009, President Barack Obama visited London, England, where he was briefed on a report that had been written by Steele about Russia.
In July 2009, Steele and Burrows founded the private intelligence organisation Orbis Business Intelligence (formerly known as HL 3299 Limited), as Simon Ralph Barrett resigned from the organisation.
In 2010, Steele’s wife Laura unfortunately passed away at the age of 43-years-old.
The same year, Steele was commissioned by the Football Association to investigate FIFA’s corruption as part of an investigation into England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup.
By mid-2011, Orbis Business Intelligence completed their surveillance and investigation into FIFA’s corruption on behalf of the Football Association. Steele then arranged a meeting with an agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the summer, Michael Gaeta, in his London office, where he passed the information and intelligence he had gathered over to him. This led to the Federal Bureau of Investigation opening a federal investigation into FIFA.
The next year, in 2012, Steele was told by an informant for Orbis that he was an “enemy of Mother Russia”, quoting an unnamed agent at the Federal Security Bureau. The same year, the lawyers of Oleg Deripaska hired Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence to gather information for a British court case involving the organisation Rusal.
In September 2012, Steele married his second and current wife, Katherine, at St. Andrew’s Church in Farnham, England.
In 2013, Steele started to provide intelligence related to Russia and Ukraine to the United States Department of State. This occurred once a month, passed through to Steele’s contact Winer, whom then passed the reports to the United States Department of State’s Europe Bureau, then under the charge of Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland.
In July of that year, Steele and Katherine purchased a £1.4 million home in Surrey, England.
In 2014, Steele and Bruce met with each other in Rome, Italy, while Steele’s information gathered during his FIFA investigation was reviewed by the Select Committee On Culture, Media and Sports.
Later during the year, on November 21, Steele and Bruce met each other again, this time in Washington, DC to discuss potentially cultivating Oleg Deripaska as a source. A few days later, on November 30, The Times of London published the article “Putin sent tame oligarchs on deniable missions to win bid”, which used Steele as a source.
In 2015, Steele took time out to meet with Bruce again in Washington, DC.
In February 2015, Steele attended the Cambridge Union Society’s bicentennial anniversary, which was also attended by Lance Forman, Stephen Parkinson and Rupert Myers, where he informed various attendees that he had founded Orbis Business Intelligence.
On April 23, 2015, Steele and Burrows founded a second organisation, Walsingham Partners Limited.
In September 2015, Steele and Bruce worked together to arrange a meeting between Bruce, agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Oleg Deripaska at the United Nations General Assembly. This was part of the United States Department of Justice’s “Operation Outreach”, where they attempted to recruit Deripaska as a source.
Starting in November 2015, Steele also started to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a report about the death of Mikhail Lesin in Washington, DC.
On January 11, 2016, Steele met with Adam Waldman, where they discussed Oleg Deripaska’s attempts to gain a visa from the United States for his business visit at the end of February 2016. The next day, Steele e-mailed Bruce about his conversation with Waldman, and asked whether Bruce would be visiting London or Europe soon — Bruce informed Steele that he would be visiting Europe twice in February 2016.
For some reason, on February 2, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation admonished Steele. A few days later, on February 8, Steele and Bruce e-mailed each other about Deripaska, who had now gained his visa to visit the United States. Bruce agreed to monitor the situation should anything arise from it.
On February 21, 2016, Steele sent an e-mail to Bruce about his recent contact with Paul Hauser and Adam Waldman about Oleg Deripaska’s future visit to America and the upcoming inter-agency meeting to be held by the United States Government about it. Steele then texted Bruce, where he claimed Deripaska’s contact with the United States Government would be beneficial to them.
The next month, on March 17, 2016, Steele and Bruce e-mailed each other to discuss potential plans to meet in Europe, although Bruce had no plans to visit.
In April 2016, Steele completed a research assignment for a private client, an assignment code named Project Charlemagne, which investigated Russian interference in five countries — France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Turkey. The report featured a look at Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Marine Le Pen, right-wing nationalist groups in the United Kingdom and their relations with the Kremlin. Ultimately, his report covered topics similar to the Internet Research Agency’s actual work.
Presumably searching for work after Project Charlemagne’s completion, Steele started to reach out to various people in Bulgaria, which continued into the next month, while he also investigated Kristalina Georgieva and her links to Multigroup on behalf of the United States Government.
The next month, in May, Steele provided information to various American intelligence agencies about Mikhail Kalugin, the Head of the Russian Embassy’s Economics Section.
In early June (stop me if you’ve heard this one before), Glenn Simpson met with Steele at Heathrow Airport, where Simpson offered Steele the chance to investigate any potential connections between Donald Trump, his campaign and Russia. Steele accepted the offer.
However, Steele then waited until a few days after June 9, 2016 to begin collating his memo together, and he did this through an associate known as “The Collector”. As Steele was unable to visit Russia himself, due to his warning from 2012, he also hired various native Russian speakers to contact informants within Russia.
At no stage did Steele himself return to Russia to verify it himself.
Steele then flew to a European city to meet with The Collector and collated his information, which led to him compiling his first memo on June 20, 2016, which he typed up himself.
On June 24, 2016, the day of the European Union referendum — and Steele’s birthday — Steele was contacted by Simpson, whom requested Steele’s memos be sent to him. The former spy requested a courier travel from London to Washington via plane to provide the encrypted USB directly with sources redacted.
After this, Steele contacted Special Agent Gaeta and arranged for him to visit him at his office in London the next month, informing Simpson of his decision. The meeting was signed off by Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland.
At the start of July, on the 1st, Steele and Bruce arranged for a Skype call to discuss Donald Trump.
On July 5, 2016, Steele met with Michael Gaeta from the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his office in London, England, where he provided Gaeta with his first two memos. While the timing is unknown, Steele also sent one of his reports to Gaeta on his own initiative without informing Fusion GPS. This memo was then left within an Organised Crime Unit at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Field Office, having been forwarded there by Special Agent Gaeta, as they did not act on it immediately.
Two days later, on July 7, Steele and Bruce had their scheduled Skype call to discuss Trump. Two more days after this, Steele and his family left London for Cyprus on holiday. They would remain on holiday until July 16, where they then returned to London.
In mid-July 2016 (between July 16–22), Steele visited Washington, DC to reach out to Bruce and Winer, an employee at the United States Department of State. At some point during this, Steele managed to share 2–4 pages of short points about the information he was collating with the United States Department of State, which was then viewed by Deputy Secretary Nuland.
After July 22, 2016, Steele discussed with his friends about WikiLeaks publishing their release of the Democratic National Committee e-mails. On July 26, Steele filed another memo, which placed the blame of the Democratic National Committee hacks on Russia.
On the day of the breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, where Steele, an associate of his, Bruce and Nellie Ohr attended, they discussed Trump. Steele discussed Page’s Moscow visit and claimed that the Russians had Trump “over a barrel”, which Steele had allegedly learned from an unnamed former Russian intelligence official. Steele then filed another memo about Kremlin response to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
As the month was coming to a close, Steele found gathering information to become more difficult, as his sources stopped speaking with him.
In August 2016, Steele visited Sir Andrew Wood at his home, where they both reviewed the memos, which the former spy noted was “raw intelligence”. Steele informed Sir Wood of his contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
On August 5, Steele filed another memo, furthering his previous memo about the Kremlin’s response to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. Five days later, two more memos were filed. Later, on August 22, another memo was filed, this time about the dismissal of Paul Manafort, which happened on August 19.
In fall 2016 (September, October, November), Steele and Burrows together visited the Garrick Club in London, England, where they met with Richard Dearlove. During the conversation, Dearlove suggested that they work with a top British government official to pass information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Simpson paid Steele a total of $168,000.00 to reach out to various mainstream media outlets to push his research.
As such, Steele arrived in Washington, DC on September 21, where he met with journalists from The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, Yahoo! News and The New Yorker.
More specifically, Steele and Simpson both attended a 2-hour meeting with a number of journalists at The Washington Post’s headquarters in Washington, DC to discuss the memos off-the-record.
Steele also met with Michael Isikoff of Yahoo! News and Jane Mayer of The New Yorker at the Tabard Inn in Washington, DC.
Steele also met with his friend Winer, where they discussed the memos as Winer passed Steele the memo written by Cody Shearer, Strobe Talbott’s brother-in-law.
Steele also took time to exchange further e-mails with Bruce to arrange breakfast for September 23.
On September 23, 2016, Steele and Bruce met each other for breakfast, where Steele outlined his own personal hatred for Donald Trump and his desire to not see him elected as President of the United States.
“Steele said he ‘was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.’”
Isikoff would also published the article “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin” in Yahoo! News, using the information provided by Steele during his visit.
It should also be noted that, on the same day, Julia Ioffe published the article “Who Is Carter Page?” in Politico — she has also said that she was approached with the dossier story. It is possible this article was the result.
On the last day of the month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation documented reporting received from Steele.
On October 1, 2016, Steele travelled to Rome, Italy again — summoned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation — and met with four agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some of whom had travelled from Washington, DC, where they discussed his memos. One of the attendees was Special Agent Gaeta, and Steele brought his newest intelligence reports with him.
It was here that Steele learned that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into George Papadopoulos, and it was here that Steele handed over Cody Shearer’s memo. The agents also offered to pay Steele for his services on the investigation, while Steele warned that if Donald Trump did win the election, he would brief a senior British security official about the dossier.
On October 3, Steele returned to London.
On October 12, Steele filed another memo, “Company Intelligence Report 2016/130: Russia: Kremlin Assessment of Trump and Russian Interference In US Presidential Election”.
In mid-October 2016, Steele visited the United States Department of State, where he directly briefed a number of people on his research into the Trump campaign and Russia. He then visited the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he was debriefed over the course of a week, where he revealed the names of some of his sources to the agents.
Also around this time, Steele visited The Washington Post’s headquarters again, frustrated, presumably shortly after his visit to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
His experience with the Federal Bureau of Investigation led to him visiting New York afterwards, where he met with Mother Jones’s David Corn and BBC News’s Paul Wood, during which time he allowed Wood to view the dossier.
On October 17, 2016, Yves Kugelmann published the article “A major blunder at the UN narrowly averted” as an opinion piece for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, in which he used information provided by Steele.
The next day, Steele filed another memo about alleged Trump-Russia collusion, as he and Bruce e-mailed each other about Deripaska. They discussed the oligarch over the telephone, then Steele forwarded information to Bruce sent from Paul Hauser about a dispute between the Ukrainian Government and RUSAL, followed by another telephone call.
After this, Simpson authorised Steele to contact David Corn, which led to Steele discussing with Corn through Skype on October 28 about his contacts with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and his memos.
Two days later, Corn published the article “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump” in Mother Jones, which led to Steele’s dismissal from the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a confidential human source the next day.
On November 8, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States.
Steele then requested Simpson to meet with Bruce, while he provided a review of his research to the senior British security official as he discussed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation back in October.
As the month rolled on, Steele wrote — without funding — a memo which detailed the possibility that Mitt Romney had been prevented to become the United States Secretary of State by President-elect Trump due to intervention from the Kremlin, which he had heard from a senior Russian official.
Between November 28–30, 2016, Steele met with David Kramer at Heathrow Airport in London, where they then travelled to Steele’s Surrey home. Kramer reviewed Steele’s memos for a number of hours, then took it to Washington to hand over to Senator John McCain.
Steele’s memos — through Steele himself — would also reach Celeste Wallander, Representative Adam Kinzinger and Jonathan Burks, the Chief of Staff to Speaker Paul Ryan. Bruce also allowed himself to become a conduit and middleman between the dismissed Steele and the Crossfire Hurricane investigation team, which lasted until May 2017.
In December 2016, Steele met with The Guardian’s Luke Harding. He would then file his actual final memo on December 13. After Christmas Day, Steele spent time with his first wife’s in-laws, meeting with David Hunt.
On January 10, 2017, BuzzFeed News published the article “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia”, written by Miriam Elder, Ken Bensinger and Mark Schoofs, which revealed the dossier to the world.
The next day, Steele realised he was about to be outed in connection with the dossier and promptly fled his Surrey home for a number of weeks. The Wall Street Journal then outed his identity in the article “Christopher Steele, Ex-British Intelligence Officer, Said to Have Prepared Dossier on Trump”.
During his time away from home, Steele and Bruce set up an encrypted chat to converse with each other, as they scheduled a telephone call for the next day. A few days later, on January 27, they discussed “their guy” whom Steele was monitoring in order to keep an eye on his situation.
This was followed up on January 30, where Steele and Bruce texted each other about Attorney General Sally Yates’s dismissal by President Trump and a discussion about “their guy” whom Steele wanted to prevent from returning home, while asking for a new contact at the Federal Bureau of Investigation to re-engage with them.
On February 9, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a database check on Steele in relation to their Human Source Validation Report. The next day, Steele and Bruce arranged to have a FaceTime conversation for February 11.
At some stage during all of this, Steele and Simpson were both hired by Daniel Jones and the Penn Quarter Group. We will come back to this later.
Representative Adam Schiff was interviewed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on March 7, 2017, where he expressed interest in meeting with Steele in any location, including in London itself. On the same day, Steele returned to work at Orbis Business Intelligence, where he also contacted Bruce over chat about a letter sent by Senator Chuck Grassley, which concerned him as it may compromise sources and methods at Orbis Business Intelligence.
Some time after this — but before March 15 — Steele pushed for Daniel Jones to contact Adam Waldman. Steele also pushed for Waldman to contact Senator Mark Warner.
On March 18, 2017, Steele texted Bruce about the upcoming testimonies of Director James Comey and Director Mike Rogers, scheduled for March 20, 2017. On the day of the testimonies, Steele spoke with Waldman.
On March 30, 2017, Steele texted Bruce, complaining about the leaks emanating from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which led to him refusing to testify before them and assisting in their investigation unless he received a bipartisan letter from both Senator Warner and Senator Richard Burr.
On May 2, 2017, Steele and Bruce arranged to have a call over WhatsApp, which occurred the next day.
On May 9, 2017, the day of Director Comey’s dismissal by President Trump, he became worried that he and others would be exposed, as they arranged to have a conversation the next day. Another phone call was arranged between the two of them on May 12, which they held on the 13th. Finally, on May 15, Steele informed Bruce that he had spoken with his wife and they had agreed to move forward with a plan.
The next month, on June 22, Steele and Bruce texted each other again, this time about Steele’s potential re-engagement with the United States Department of Justice. The next day, Steele and Burrows founded the organisation Chawton Holdings Limited in Hampshire, England. On June 24, Bruce texted Steele that his re-engagement was still in process.
Between July 3–9, 2017, Steele contacted his former colleagues at the Secret Intelligence Service to determine whether he would be allowed to re-engage with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and they assured him it would be fine. Steele then notified Bruce of this on July 16.
The next month, on August 6, Steele texted Bruce about his frustration due to waiting around for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Robert Mueller to engage with him. They then attempted to arrange a call for the next day, but this fell apart and they scheduled the call for August 8 instead, which they held.
The re-engagement finally happened in September, where Steele met with Team Mueller. During the meeting, Steele discussed the unpublished memo from November 2016 about Mitt Romney’s depleted chances at becoming the Secretary of State. To note: on September 7, Steele and Bruce attempted to arrange a call for September 9, which Steele viewed as tricky due to “latest developments”, and on the day itself, Steele was in Stratford, England with his family.
On October 26, 2017, Steele attempted to contact Bruce a couple of times via telephone, then texted him to try and arrange a call about a recent article about the Federal Bureau of Investigation handing over documents related to his relationship with the intelligence agency. Steele also notified Bruce that he would try and contact people within Team Mueller. They eventually scheduled a call the next day for October 28, which they held.
Two days later, Steele met with Simpson in London, which he texted Bruce about with a clearer understanding of his conversation with Bruce from October 28.
November was another month of missed calls and scheduled calls between Bruce and Steele, as Steele grew impatient waiting to hear news back from Team Mueller, which Bruce said he would chase for him.
By January 2018, Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence had earned over £400,000.00. However, Steele received news while he was in Farnham, England — contacted by somebody in Washington, DC — that he had been referred to the United States Department of Justice by Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Grassley for criminal referral on January 4.
And that’s another article finished.
“But it just abruptly ended and more stuff happ-”
I said… another article finished.