By Chuck Ross
Christopher Steele’s private intelligence firm continues defending the former spy’s dossier, saying in a letter to a British newspaper this week that the salacious document is “valid,” even though a Justice Department report recently discredited it.
The latest dossier defense, offered up by Arthur Snell, a managing director at Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, suggests that former FBI cybersecurity official Anthony Ferrante has validated the dossier.
But what Snell failed to disclose is that BuzzFeed News reportedly paid Ferrante $4.1 million to investigate only a narrow part of the dossier as part of a lawsuit that the website faced for publishing Steele’s report.
Ferrante was unable to corroborate Steele’s allegations, despite the hefty payday. But that didn’t stop Orbis from citing the former FBI official in its latest dossier defense.
“Orbis maintains the highest standards of professionalism. We stand by the integrity and quality of our work,” Snell wrote in the letter to The Sunday Times.
Snell, whose letter is entitled “Trump-Russia dossier was valid,” was responding to a Sunday Times story published on Jan. 26 that criticized Steele’s work.
“You ignore more recent assessments of Steele’s work by intelligence professionals such as John Sipher, Chuck Rosenberg, and Anthony Ferrante,” wrote Snell.
Sipher is a former CIA officer, and Rosenberg is a former FBI chief of staff to James Comey. Both wrote essays defending aspects of the dossier, but that was before the release of the special counsel’s report and the inspector general’s report, both of which undermined key allegations in the dossier.
Our letter in response to misleading reporting in the Sunday Times. All the indications are that @ShippersUnbound didn’t properly read the US DOJ report on which the article is based. pic.twitter.com/iJDNaFgT93
— Orbis Business Intelligence (@OrbisBIOfficial) February 24, 2020
Ferrante’s report did not address any of the salacious allegations about President Donald Trump or members of his campaign. In the dossier, Steele alleged that the Russian government had blackmail material on Trump and that Trump campaign associates worked directly with Kremlin operatives to hack and release emails detrimental to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Instead, Ferrante investigated Steele’s claim that the Russians used web hosting companies owned by Aleksej Gubarev to carry out the cyberattacks against Democrats. Gubarev vehemently denied the allegation and sued BuzzFeed in the U.S. and Steele in the U.K.
Ferrante’s report on the claims against Gubarev were inconclusive.
A Justice Department inspector general’s report tarnished the dossier, which Steele compiled on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign.
The report said that Steele’s primary source for his information said that Steele embellished or mischaracterized much of the information in the document. Steele told FBI agents on Oct. 3, 2016 that he believed a sub-source for his dossier was a “boaster” and an “embellisher.”
The inspector general’s report and special counsel’s report also refuted one of Steele’s main claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. The reports said that Steele’s claim that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials was inaccurate.
Orbis did not respond to a request for comment.
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