The former spy who compiled the dossier on US President-elect Donald Trump’s ties to Russia went into hiding before his name was released, according to reports early Thursday.
The dossier, which alleges that Trump’s aides colluded with the Kremlin ahead of the US election, and that Russia has compromising information of a sexual nature about Trump, was compiled by Christopher Steele, a former intelligence agent.
Steele, 52, fled his home Wednesday, according to a report in Britain’s The Daily Telegraph. A source told the Telegraph that Steele fears a backlash from Moscow.
The source described him as “terrified for his safety,” according to the report.
Steele is married with children. His wife and family have also disappeared from home, the Telegraph said.
“He asked me to look after his cat as he would be gone for a few days,” a neighbor told the Telegraph. “I’m not sure where he’s gone or how to contact him. I don’t really know much about him except to say hello.
“We’re all pretty secretive round here to be honest. All I know is he runs some sort of consultancy business.”
Steele, a former MI6 officer, compiled the report, which was published on Tuesday, instantly igniting a firestorm around Trump, who derided its findings as “fake” and called those who put it together “sick.”
American media and politicians have been in possession of versions of the 35-page report for months but, unable to corroborate its claims, had declined to publish it.
On Tuesday, after several media reported that Trump had been briefed on the allegations circulating about him, BuzzFeed news took the controversial step of publishing the dossier in full — while admitting it is “unverified.”
The 35 pages consist of memos compiled by Steele before and after the November 8 election, after he was hired to produce opposition research on the Trump campaign, first by a Republican rival of Trump and then later by people tied to Hillary Clinton’s Democratic campaign.
Steele is the director of British consultancy Orbis Business Intelligence, which according to its website “was founded in 2009 by former British intelligence professionals.”
Orbis describes itself as “London based, but with a global footprint, our core strength is our ability to meld a high–level source network with a sophisticated investigative capability. We provide strategic advice, mount intelligence–gathering operations and conduct complex, often cross–border investigations.”
On Friday US intelligence chiefs, briefing Trump on allegations of Russian interference in the election, reportedly included a two-page summary of the most credible claims from the dossier.
That classified summary has been shown only to Trump, President Barack Obama, and a group of senators from the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Trump angrily dismissed the report as a fabrication, telling a news conference: “It’s all fake news. It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen.”
And he slammed US intelligence for allowing the information to leak.
“I think it was disgraceful — disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out,” Trump charged. “I say that that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done.”
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
The dossier includes unsubstantiated claims that Russians possess videos involving prostitutes, filmed during a 2013 visit by Trump to a luxury Moscow hotel for the Miss Universe contest, supposedly as a potential means for blackmail.
It also alleges that Trump advisers including his lawyer Michael Cohen maintained regular contact with Russian officials and others linked to Russian intelligence during the election and have been exchanging information for “at least” eight years.
Responding to Trump’s comments White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the president-elect could easily refute many of the claims in the dossier by releasing his financial information.
“They’ve not been transparent,” he said of Trump and his advisers. “Many of the questions that have been raised have been about potential financial entanglements of the president-elect and his family and business in Russia. There’s ample evidence they could marshal to make public to refute those accusations that they say are baseless. But they refuse to do so. That kind of secrecy only serves to sow public doubt.”
AFP contributed to this report.