When esteemed British intelligence officer Christopher Steele quit his job at MI6 in 2008 to launch his own private intelligence business, little did he know that Donald Trump’s name would begin appearing in his intel as early as 2011.
For nearly thirty years, Steele had worked as a close ally of the United States, and he couldn’t imagine why anyone would believe that he had been deceptive. […]
Steele had spent more than twenty years in MI6, most of it focusing on Russia. For three years, in the nineties, he spied in Moscow under diplomatic cover. Between 2006 and 2009, he ran the service’s Russia desk, at its headquarters, in London. He was fluent in Russian, and widely considered to be an expert on the country. […]
And so Steele, on that January night, was stunned to learn that U.S. politicians were calling him a criminal. […]
Steele worked out of the British Embassy for MI6, under diplomatic cover. His years in Moscow, 1990 to 1993, were among the most dramatic in Russian history. By the time Steele left the country, optimism was souring, and a politics of resentment was taking hold. […]
After leaving Moscow, Steele was assigned an undercover posting with the British Embassy in Paris, but he and a hundred and sixteen other British spies had their cover blown by an anonymously published list. Steele came in from the cold and returned to London, and in 2006 he began running its Russia desk, growing increasingly pessimistic about the direction of the Russian Federation. […]
Steele’s already dim view of the Kremlin darkened in November, 2006, when Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian K.G.B. officer and a Putin critic who had been recruited by MI6, suffered an agonizing death in a London hospital, after drinking a cup of tea poisoned with radioactive polonium-210. Moscow had evidently sanctioned a brazen murder in his own country. Steele was put in charge of M.I.6’s investigation. Authorities initially planned to indict one suspect in the murder, but Steele’s investigative work persuaded them to indict a second suspect as well. Nine years later, the U.K.’s official inquiry report was finally released, and it confirmed Steele’s view: the murder was an operation by the F.S.B., and it was “probably approved” by Vladimir Putin.