- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2020

Dossier creator Christopher Steele testified at a defamation trial in London that the FBI stiffed him out of payments he was due for travel in his anti-Trump investigation.

His testimony came in a lawsuit brought by Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev. Mr. Steele’s dossier accused the computer server CEO of being the culprit who hacked into Democratic Party computers in 2016.

After the dossier’s publication in January 2017 by BuzzFeed, Mr. Gubarev quickly denied the claim. The FBI concluded the hacking was done by Russian military intelligence units in Moscow, not Mr. Gubarev.

Andrew Caldecott, Mr. Gubarev’s attorney, led Mr. Steele through hours of testimony in late July about how he compiled the allegations against Donald Trump at the behest of the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

According to transcripts obtained by The Washington Times, Mr. Steele testified that he became unhappy with the lack of public disclosure and FBI follow-through on his investigation. In desperation, he did a Skype interview with David Corn of Mother Jones magazine to get his allegations to the American people before they voted.

Subsequent government reports have discredited Mr. Steele’s allegations, such as that President Trump funded the Russian computer hacking and oversaw the supposed conspiracy. Special counsel Robert Mueller reported in March 2019 that he didn’t find Trump-Russia election collusion.

Once the Mother Jones story ran on Oct. 31, 2016, Mr. Steele’s FBI handler telephoned to chew him out. Mr. Steele met with the agent and other bureau officials in Rome in early October, and they promised to pay him significant sums to keep investigating Mr. Trump.

“You were never paid the $15,000 which had been agreed in Rome for past work, were you?” Mr. Caldecott asked.

“No, I wasn’t.”

“And you made no attempts to pursue that money, did you?”

“I think I did, actually, yes. We were not paid our expenses for Rome either having gone to Rome at their request. We were never paid the expenses, nor were we paid quite a large sum of money that we were owed previously for work we had done for them,” Mr. Steele said, according to transcripts.

Mr. Steele also testified about efforts by former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott to obtain the dossier in November 2016. Mr. Steele said Mr. Talbott, a President Clinton appointee, received the “package” and planned to brief Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

Mr. Steele sent a message to State Department official Jonathan Winer saying he didn’t want to travel back to Washington, where he had briefed reporters and Obama administration officials in July, September and October. But Mr. Talbott insisted.

“However, Glenn and Strobe T have twisted our arms and we are likely to leave on Wednesday and [will] be available for meetings over there Thurs/Fri if you want to pass that on to T,” Mr. Steele told Mr. Winer in a message the same day the Mother Jones story appeared.

“Glenn” is Glenn R. Simpson of Fusion GPS, who handled Mr. Steele and worked to get dossier allegations into the news media to damage candidate Trump.

“Mr. Talbott called me and stated that he wanted to discuss the pre-election memoranda with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and senior officials from the State Department at a forthcoming private meeting,” Mr. Steele said. “He therefore requested a copy of the pre-election memoranda.”

Mr. Steele never made the trip. He later spoke to Mr. Talbott by phone.

A London judge heard the Gubarev case. A decision is pending.

As Mr. Steele was concluding his testimony in July, a newly declassified FBI document was obtained by Senate Republicans. It showed that Mr. Steele’s main dossier source was a U.S.-based Russian national, Igor Danchenko, who compiled the dossier claims from a group of friends in Moscow. He told the FBI that his sources’ information was not worth “a grain of salt,” according to a report by the Justice Department inspector general.

Mr. Danchenko is another dossier link to the Brookings Institution, where he formerly worked as a foreign policy analyst. Mr. Talbott was Brookings president when he was working to obtain dossier copies and get them to Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Steele disclosed that he needed to send a brand new copy of his dossier post-election to Mr. Simpson by encrypted message because Fusion GPS had destroyed the first copy and all the company’s related documents.

“Why did you send an encrypted copy to Fusion; I thought they already had the reports?” asked Mr. Caldecott.

Mr. Steele: “I was under the impression that they had destroyed them at the end of the contract along with all the other material.”

The new copy was delivered to Sen. John McCain who passed it on to FBI Director James B. Comey, whose agents had already acquire copies before the election.

McCain associate David J. Kramer also received a copy from Fusion. He proceeded to pass the material around Washington as Mr. Trump prepared to become president. It was Mr. Kramer’s copy that ended up in the hands of BuzzFeed.

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