Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy who compiled the now-discredited dossier aimed at damaging Donald Trump, is claiming vindication after the Federal Election Commission rejected a complaint about his behavior during the 2016 election while meting out punishment to Hillary Clinton and the DNC.
The FEC on Wednesday announced Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic National Committee were fined for violating campaign finance laws in 2016 related to paying Mr. Steele for the debunked dossier.
But the commission dismissed charges against Mr. Steele and others involved in the scheme, limiting the fines to Mrs. Clinton, who paid $8,000, and the DNC, which had to pay $105,000.
Officials at a D.C. law firm representing Mr. Steele and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence, issued a statement Thursday declaring the FEC’s dismissal of the charges “underlines once again that Mr. Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence acted with complete integrity and professionalism in relation to their work on the 2016 election.”
Mr. Steele has defended the dossier even though it contained wild and unproven allegations against Mr. Trump.
The claims dogged Mr. Trump throughout his presidency and played a key role in feeding the years-long federal probe into whether he colluded with Russia to win the presidency.
The Coolidge Reagan Foundation, which describes itself as a First Amendment watchdog group, filed the FEC complaint.
In a statement Thursday, foundation President Dan Backer called the FEC “dysfunctional” and said it is likely Mr. Steele‘s actions fell outside of civil campaign finance laws.
“Steele’s likely criminal conduct is probably too complex, especially with the statute of limitations about to expire, for an agency that couldn’t manage to function for two years,” Mr. Backer said. “Getting away with it is not the same as being vindicated though.”
In the FEC complaint, the foundation described the dossier as “compiled from lies, innuendo and fabrication from … current and former agents of the Russian government,” to undermine Mr. Trump’s candidacy.
Mr. Steele, the foundation said in the complaint, released the dossier to the American media and the FBI, “in an attempt to swing the election in Clinton’s favor.”
In addition to dismissing the charges against Mr. Steele, the FEC dismissed charges against the law firm Perkins Coie, which was working with the DNC and Mrs. Clinton to develop opposition research targeting Mr. Trump, and Fusion GPS, the company that commissioned Mr. Steele to conduct research on Mr. Trump.
In a 2019 interview with ABC News, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, said the raw and unconfirmed findings in the dossier were never meant to be published.
BuzzFeed published the entire dossier, revealing allegations compiled by Mr. Steele after then-FBI Director James B. Comey met with Mr. Trump and the White House and told him about the existence of the dossier.
“We were horrified when it was published because it’s not the kind of thing that we do,” Mr. Simpson said.