British Spy Behind Trump Report Aided FBI With Soccer Scandal Probe

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The former MI6 British spy named as the author of an unverified report onDonald Trumpsalleged relationship with Russia earned his reputation as an investigator aiding the FBI in its bombshell probe of world soccer.

Christopher Steele, 52, and his family were inhidingThursday night, after media reports exposed him asbeing behindthe report containing potentially compromising but unsubstantiated information about the president-elect. Intelligence leaderssaid theyinformed Trumpabout the dossier last Friday as they briefed him about Russian hacking during the presidential campaign.

Steele runs the London-based private investigation firm Orbis Business Intelligence, which he co-founded after leaving the British Secret Service. The FBI may have taken his allegations about Russia and Trump more seriously because agents had worked with him during an investigation into world soccersgoverning body FIFA, Reuters and The New York Times reported.

Englands Football Association hired Steele in 2009 to investigate Russia, which was then a rival to England to the host the 2018 World Cup, Reuters said Thursday. Steele eventually turned information he gathered on Russia to the FBIs New York-based Eurasian Task Force in a 2010 meeting in London. Steeles FIFA worklent credibility to his Russia expertise and contacts, U.S. officials told the news agency.

The FBIs probe ultimately resulted in dozens of U.S. indictmentsin 2015 against soccer administration leaders and sports marketing executives on charges ranging from bribery to tax evasion and money laundering.

Coincidentally, the key informer in the FBIs case was former FIFA executiveChuck Blazer, a friend of Trumps who was a frequent guest at the real estate businessmans beauty pageants. Blazer lived in Trump Tower and ran CONCACAF, the regional confederation overseeing soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean,from offices in the building. (Court filings released Wednesday reveal reveal Blazeradmitted in 2013 to accepting bribes related to South Africas 2010 World Cup bid.)

Leon Neal via Getty Images
Journalists cluster outside the offices of Orbis Business Intelligence in London, the company co-owned by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele, who has been identified as the man responsible for unverified reports on Donald Trump’s alleged activities in Russia.

One of Steeles reports involves alleged pressure from Russia on Trump to build projects connected to the 2018 World Cup, which the British agents report said the real estate businessman had rebuffed.

Steeles firm was hired during the presidential campaign byanti-Trump Republicans and later Democrats to probe the businessmans relationship with Russia, Reuters reported.

The British agent, who had worked as a spy in Russia for years, reportedly used contacts to create a series of reports on claims about the countrys alleged relationship with Trump. The unverified reports also allege that members of Trumps campaign team maintained ties with Russians during his race for the presidency.

Trump denounced media coverage of the existence of the report this week as fake news, a political witch-hunt and crap. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putincalled the reports absolute fantasy.

CNN was the first to report that Trump was briefed on the existence of Steeles reports by U.S.intelligence chiefs. The network said Trump should be aware of the report, even though its claims were unverified, because it had been circulating for months among politicians and members of the media.

Trump has said that intelligence agencies determined there was no truth to Steeles finding.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement Wednesday saying that he had called Trump to clarify that intelligence agencies had made no judgment about the reliability of the allegations. He also insisted that the leak about the report did not come from any intelligence agency.

During his press conference Wednesday, Trump refused to call on a reporter from CNN, calling the broadcasterfake news. Buzzfeed is the only media outlet to date that has printed the full dossier that Steele reportedly wrote.

Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com

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