A former British intelligence officer who now heads a private security and investigations firm is the author of the dossier containing unverified allegations about President-elect Donald Trump’s activities and connections in Russia, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
The sources identified the man as Christopher Steele, a director of London-based Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd.
The document he authored alleges that the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s presidential campaign and claims that Russian officials have compromising evidence of Trump’s behavior that could be used to blackmail him.
Steele, 52 years old, is one of two directors of the firm, along with Christopher Burrows, 58, according to WSJ.
Burrows, reached at his home outside London on Wednesday, said he wouldn’t “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the report. A neighbor of Steele’s said that Steele had indicated he would be away for a few days.
Orbis Business Intelligence was formed in 2009 by former British intelligence professionals, it says on its website. The firm relies on a “global network” of experts and business leaders to provide clients with strategic advice, mount “intelligence-gathering operations” and conduct “complex, often cross-border investigations,” its website says.
One of the sources told WSJ that the dossier put together by Steele consists of a series of unsigned memos that appear to have been written between June and December 2016. Beyond creating the document, Steele also devised a plan to get the information to law-enforcement officials in the U.S. and Europe, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the source said.
The dossier generated a firestorm less than 10 days before Trump’s inauguration. U.S. officials have examined the allegations but haven’t confirmed any of them. The Wall Street Journal noted it also hasn’t corroborated any of the allegations in the dossier.
Trump on Wednesday dismissed the reports on the dossier as fake news. During a press conference in New York, Trump called the reports "nonsense" and added, "A thing like that should never have been written, should never been had, and should never have been released.”
Russia also denied earlier on Wednesday that it had any damaging material on Trump.
“The Kremlin does not have compromising information on Trump," Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aide Dmitry Peskov said.