Christopher Steele says his computer records for research to write a Democratic Party-financed anti-Donald Trump dossier no longer exist.
He made the disclosure in trial testimony last month for a law suit brought by three Russian oligarchs who own Alfa Bank, the country’s largest commercial bank.
Mr. Steele, in his 35-page dossier that accused President Trump of leading a Russian conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election, linked the three bankers to the Kremlin computer hacking and social media war against Hillary Clinton.
The three deny the allegation found in dossier report No. 112 and have sued Mr. Steele, a former MI6 officer, in Washington D.C. and in London.
Based on government reports, the dossier has turned out to be a jumble of false allegations that Republicans view as a hoax to destroy the president. The FBI relied heavily on Mr. Steele’s reporting to investigate the president and his aides.
The Daily Caller on Thursday first reported on the trial testimony. It displayed transcripts of Mr. Steele saying his computer files were “wiped” shortly before BuzzFeed posted his dossier in January 2017 as Mr. Trump was about to take office.
Asked by Hugh Tomlinson, the lawyer for Russians’ Petr Aven, German Khan, and Mikhail Fridman, about his records related to No. 112, he said, “I have no record of it.”
And files for his other dossier memos? “No, they were wiped in early January 2017.”
According to a December report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Mr. Steele relied heavily on an unnamed “primary sub-source” in Russia, presumedly in Moscow close to Kremlin operations.
The Horowitz report says that the FBI located the source in January 2017 who told agents he was merely repeating Moscow gossip to Mr. Steele, not corroborated facts.
Mr. Steele responded at the time through his Washington lawyers that his source did not tell him the material was gossip. He said he kept meticulous records of their conversations.
But in his courtroom testimony, Mr. Steele said of such records, “They no longer exist.”
A judge’s ruling in the case is pending.
In another blow to Mr. Steele and the dossier, the Trump administration declassified footnotes in the Horowitz report that said U.S. intelligence warned the FBI in early 2017 that the document was based in part on Russian disinformation.
This meant the Kremlin was trying to damage both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump.
Corrected from earlier version: Mr. Steele’s testimony was in given in court, not in a deposition.
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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