Christopher Steele clapped back Friday at President Trump’s criticism, defending his salacious dossier in a rare public statement.
“Yesterday @realDonald Trump made false claims about us,” Mr. Steele’s company Orbis Business Intelligence said in a tweet. “He wildly exaggerated our fees and, contrary to his claims, we have never stated any of our reporting is ‘fake.’ We stand by the integrity of our research on Kremlin interference in the 2016 election and support for Trump.”
In a follow-up tweet, Orbis Business Intelligence included a link to a report by a former CIA officer that it described as “a detailed, balanced assessment of our 2016 work.”
During a speech to celebrate his Senate impeachment acquittal, Mr. Trump took aim at Mr. Steele, a British ex-spy whose salacious and unverified dossier was used by the FBI to obtain surveillance warrants against Trump campaign figure Carter Page.
“Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid for, millions of dollars, the fake dossier,” Mr. Trump said. “And now, Christopher Steele admits that it is fake because he got sued by rich people. I should have sued him too, but when you’re president people don’t like you suing.”
Mr. Trump was referring to a legal deposition Mr. Steele gave in which he admitted part of the dossier came from “unsolicited intelligence,” “raw intelligence” and “needed to be analyzed and further investigated/verified.”
Mr. Steele also said he used web searches and other unverified information to support details in his 35-page dossier.
The revelations came in a lawsuit filed by Aleksej Gubarev, chief executive of XBT Holdings, a network solutions firm. In the dossier, Mr. Steele identified the tech executive as a rogue hacker.
Opposition research firm Fusion GPS hired Mr. Steele at the behest of the Hillary Clinton campaign to compile opposition research on Mr. Trump, her opponent in the 2016 election. That research ultimately became known as the Steele dossier, which was a compilation of unverified allegations about Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz last month blasted Mr. Steele in his report on the FBI’s bungling of the Page surveillance warrants.
Mr. Horowitz uncovered that the FBI had “significant questions about the reliability” of Mr. Steele’s reporting and bureau officials concluded he had “some judgment problems.”
The CIA dismissed the Steele dossier as an “internet rumor,” according to the report.