About a year ago, I met a man named Christopher David Steele. It was unusual for him to be speaking with a journalist. He had spent most of his adult life in the shadows, as a counterintelligence officer for MI6, the British foreign intelligence service. His specialty was Russia.
More recently, he had been something of a spy-for-hire, running a corporate intelligence business based in London that did hush-hush work for private clients. He was, he told me, not accustomed to chatting with outsiders. But Steele was worried. He had spent several months, as the world now knows, researching connections between Donald Trump and Russia, and he had unearthed information (which was then unconfirmed) indicating that Russia had been trying to co-opt and cultivate Trump for years, that the Trump camp had been trading information with the Russians, and that Vladimir Putin's regime had gathered compromising material on Trump. (Yes, including the infamous supposed "pee tape.")
All of this so frightened Steele -- imagine a man tied to Moscow in this fashion winning the White House! -- that he was willing to talk to me and be quoted, though not named.
By the time Steele and I spoke, Putin's meddling in the 2016 campaign -- with Russian intelligence hacking Democratic targets, stealing sensitive material, and then publicly dumping the material via several cut-outs, including WikiLeaks -- should have been a massive scandal. But it wasn't. Nor were the odd relationships between Trump, his associates, and Russia drawing great notice.
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Already, the FBI was digging into the Trump crew's interactions with Russia and looking for any instances of collusion between the Trump camp and Moscow, though the American public had not yet been informed the bureau was doing so. Steele believed this was absolutely critical information for voters to have and he wanted the word out -- even if that put him at risk of exposure.Go to Mother Jones to read the rest of this article.