Ivanka Trump reportedly met with former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele nearly a decade before the 2016 presidential campaign, and was in touch with him for several years before the campaign.
Ivanka, US President Donald Trump’s daughter, exchanged emails with Steele but the two never worked together directly, ABC News reported Monday.
Steele would later become a key figure in the Russia scandal that embroiled the Trump presidency.
Steele conducted opposition research into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, and was funded by Democrats and the Clinton campaign.
Steele’s research was compiled into a dossier that was provided to the FBI after it had opened its investigation. In the controversial report Steele detailed embarrassing incidents involving Trump before he was elected.
Ivanka Trump first met Steele at a dinner in 2007, after which the pair wrote to each other about the possibility of work collaborations, a source told ABC. The two reportedly also met at Trump Tower in 2008.
Ivanka Trump reportedly thought that Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, could help the Trump Organization expand into foreign markets.
ABC saw some of the pair’s communications, and sought comment from Ivanka Trump but received no response. Steele’s attorney and a representative for Orbis Business Intelligence, and the White House, all declined to comment on the report.
Steele had previously told investigators that he had met with “a Trump family member at Trump Tower and ‘been friendly’ with [the family member] for some years,” without naming the individual he met with.
The Justice Department’s internal watchdog said in a Monday report that the FBI was justified in opening its investigation into ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia and did not act with political bias, despite “serious performance failures” up the bureau’s chain of command.
Trump, in remarks at the White House shortly after the report’s release, claimed that the report showed “an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it.”
Republicans have long criticized the process since the FBI relied in part on opposition research from Steele, whose work was financed by Democrats and the Clinton campaign, and that fact was not disclosed to the judges who approved the warrant.
The watchdog found that the FBI had overstated the significance of Steele’s past work as an informant, omitted information about one of Steele’s sources whom Steele had called a “boaster” and said “may engage in some embellishment.”
The FBI’s Russia investigation, which was ultimately taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller, began in July 2016, after the FBI learned that a former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, had been saying before it was publicly known that Russia had dirt on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in the form of stolen emails. Those emails, which were hacked from Democratic email accounts by Russian intelligence operatives, were released by WikiLeaks in the weeks before the election, in what US officials have said was an effort to harm Clinton’s campaign and help Trump.