As of Thursday, the debate over the credibility of the purported opposition research dossier on Donald Trump alleging that Russia has blackmail material on him continues to be the top news story in America. The Guardian stoked the fire with a report citing their intelligence community sources as saying that Christopher Steele, the former MI-6 officer who authored the dossier, is considered “very credible” and a “highly regarded professional.” This comes on the heels of a Wednesday BBC report that independently sourced some of the details contained in the dossier. The Guardian report, burying the lead a bit, also drops at the end of the article that Steele has gone into hiding.
With Steele’s credibility being central to the report, there’s little to no information given on his voluntary disappearance. That takes us back to his reputation and the dossier he prepared.
“The idea his work is fake or a cowboy operation is false, completely untrue,” said a former British government official who worked with Steele for decades and calls him a friend. “Chris is an experienced and highly regarded professional. He’s not the sort of person who will simply pass on gossip. If he puts something in a report, he believes there’s sufficient credibility in it for it to be worth considering. Chris is a very straight guy. He could not have survived in the job he was in if he had been prone to flights of fancy or doing things in an ill-considered way.”
According to The Guardian’s sources, Steele specialized in Russian issues while at MI-6 and ran the agency’s Russia desk at one point. His expertise made him a prime choice for anyone looking to research potential connections between Trump and the Russian Federation.
The same British government source quoted above also added that “The strongest reason for giving this report credence is that intelligence professionals in the US take it seriously,” having been “sufficiently persuaded by the author’s track record to find the contents worth passing to the president and president-elect.” He or she added that the dossier’s contents being Russian disinformation was also unlikely because it’s “multi-dimensional, involving many different people, and many moving parts.”
A BBC report on Wednesday also backed up the dossier, at least in part. Paul Wood reports that Steele was not the only source for the intelligence that Russia had “kompromat” on Trump, adding that the CIA clearly believes it to be credible,, and that’s why Trump and President Barack Obama got a distilled two page version of the most credible information on the whole ordeal.