The lurid allegations from former British spy Christopher Steele about former President Donald J. Trump which served as the basis for the witch hunt that consumed the early years of his historic presidency are back with a vengeance.
On Sunday, ABC News aired a preview of a sit-down interview between Steele and George Stephanopoulos where the two chatted about the infamous dossier alleging that Trump hired prostitutes to urinate on a bed in a Moscow hotel where Barack and Michelle Obama once slept and which was recorded by Russian intelligence, a sensational and salacious claim that was catnip to the media.
Steele also spoke about another claim, that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen traveled to the Czech Republic where he met with the Russians in Prague in the months before the 2016 election, an assertion that fueled conspiracy theories that the Russians meddled in the election.
The exclusive interview with the former MI6 agent promotes the new Hulu documentary “Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier” and will likely generate much media coverage with the possibility that Trump will run again in 2024.
When asked about the “pee tape” kompromat which has never been proven to exist, Steele said “I think it probably does” exist,” while hedging, “But I would not put 100 percent certainty on it.”
Confronting his critics, Christopher Steele defends controversial dossier in first major interview.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) October 17, 2021
Asked by Stephanopoulos about why he has chosen now to break his silence, Steele responded.
“I think there were several reasons. I think the first and most important is that the problems we identified back in 2016 haven’t gone away, and arguably, actually got worse. And I felt it was important to come and set the record straight,” he said.
The conversation turned to Cohen in Prague, a detail that has been debunked by Justice Department inspector general as well as special counsel Robert Mueller.
“One big claim in the dossier, the FBI, according to inspector general’s report and Mueller reinforces it, is not true is the claim that Michael Cohen had a meeting with Russians in Prague. Do you accept that finding that it didn’t happen?” asked Stephanopolous.
Steele stuck to his guns, “No, I don’t,” he said.
Stephanopoulos followed up, “Michael Cohen has completely turned on Donald Trump. He’s accused him of all kinds of things. He’s gone to jail. It defies logic that if he did this, he wouldn’t say so now.”
Steele replied, “I don’t agree with that.” Leading Stephanopoulos to ask, “Why?”
“It’s self-incriminating to a very great degree,” Steele said.
“Since he’s gone to prison, since he’s turned on President Trump, he’s told every single story. Why wouldn’t he admit to this?” Stephanopoulos inquired.
Steele refused to budge, “Because I think it’s so incriminating and demeaning. And the other reason is he might be scared of the consequences.”
Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think it hurts your credibility at all that you won’t accept the findings of the FBI in this particular case?”
Steele defended his work, saying, “I’m prepared to accept that not everything on the dossier is 100 percent accurate. I have yet to be convinced that that is one of them.”
The conversation turned to the “pee tape”
Stephanopoulos pointed out, “One of your main collectors who spoke to the inspector general said that, especially the kompromat, was ‘word of mouth and hearsay,’ conversations with ‘friends over beers…It was just talk.'”
“If you have a confidential source and that confidential source is blown or is uncovered, that confidential source will often take fright and try and downplay and underestimate what they’ve said and done. And I think that’s probably what happened here.” Steele replied, adding that the source may be afraid for their life.
Stephanopoulos asked, “So you stand by the dossier?”
Steele remained steadfast, “I stand by the work we did, the sources that we had, and the professionalism which we applied to it.”
“And today do you still believe that that tape exists?” Stephanopoulos asked Steele.
He replied, “I think it probably does, but I wouldn’t put 100 percent certainty on it.”
Then a very important question: “So how do you explain if that tape does indeed exist it hasn’t been released?” asked Stephanopolous.
Steele responded, “Well, it hasn’t needed to be released.”
“Why not?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Because I think the Russians felt they got pretty good value out of Donald Trump when he was president of the U.S,” Steele said.
“Out of the Shadows: The Man Behind the Steele Dossier” debuts Monday, October 18, it was produced by Stephanopoulos’ production company.
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