WASHINGTON — Former British spies now working as business consultants authored the explosive report on US President-elect Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, the Wall Street Journal said Wednesday.
The unsubstantiated report, which said Moscow has plotted for years to build ties with Trump and has lurid sex footage involving him, came from London-based Orbis Business Intelligence, the Journal said.
The 35-page document, which Trump has branded “phony” and “fake news,” was written by Orbis director Christopher Steele, the Journal said.
It said Steele, who leads the company with co-director Christopher Burrows, is a former British intelligence officer, citing people familiar with the matter.
On its website, Orbis describes itself as “founded in 2009 by former British intelligence professionals.”
US media says the report was prepared by a former employee of MI-6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service.
“The team now draws on extensive experience at boardroom level in government, multilateral diplomacy and international business to develop bespoke solutions for clients,” the Orbis website said.
The report says Russia’s intelligence services, directed by President Vladimir Putin, sought to support Trump and hurt his rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election.
It said the Trump campaign maintained regular contact with Russian officials and operatives.
It also said that Moscow has compromising materials on Trump that could be used to pressure him.
None of the content has been substantiated, but US intelligence, through its own investigation, has also concluded that Putin ordered a campaign to support Trump against Clinton.
One part of the report, which said Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with the Russians, has been flatly denied by the Trump camp. Cohen said Tuesday that he had never travelled to Russia or to Prague as claimed in the report.
US media reported Tuesday that the Orbis report was given to US intelligence last year and, after being investigated, formed the basis of a two-page addendum to the US intelligence chiefs’ presentation last Friday to Trump of a classified report on Russian interference in the elections.
It is not known what parts of the Orbis report made it into the two-page summary from the Director of National Intelligence.
Orbis did not immediately reply to queries.