By Chuck Ross
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been in weekly contact with lawyers for Christopher Steele but has been unable to secure an interview with the former British spy, who is the author of the infamous dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
“We’re still in conversation weekly,” North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence panel, told BuzzFeed News.
“I know that we are in communications and we obviously would like to get that hearing,” Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the committee, told the news outlet.
Steele, a former MI6 officer, is the main source for allegations that members of the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. His dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC, also alleges that the Russian government was blackmailing President Donald Trump with video footage from a Moscow hotel room. (RELATED: REVEALED: Christopher Steele Visited The State Department Just Before The Election)
But the dossier remains largely uncorroborated, and Trump and campaign associates named in the document have all vehemently denied Steele’s allegations.
Steele has been in contact with the committee since at least March 2017. Text messages published by Fox News showed that Warner was in contact with an attorney named Adam Waldman who attempted to set up a meeting with Steele to discuss the dossier.
Waldman is an attorney for Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate who has done business in the past with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Deripaska is also a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Waldman’s involvement has raised questions about possible links between Steele and Deripaska. (RELATED: Senator Connects Dossier Dots)
It is unclear why Steele has yet to be interviewed by the committee, according to BuzzFeed.
Burr said Steele’s “cooperation” has been the main roadblock. Despite Steele’s apparent failure to cooperate, Burr said the committee has been able to gather information about the former spy and his London-based intelligence firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.
“I think that we know a lot more about not just him but his company and the array of clients that they had and how they operate,” Burr said. “I think this is much more comprehensive than anybody would think to begin with.”
Burr said in a press conference in October 2017 that the committee had “hit a wall” regarding an investigation of the dossier, which BuzzFeed published on Jan. 10, 2017.
“The committee cannot really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding things like who paid for it, who are your sources and sub-sources,” Burr told reporters on Oct. 4, 2017.
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