A copy of the highly scrutinized dossier that alleges ties between the Trump campaign and Russia was handed over to a UK intelligence official last year.
Christopher Steele, the retired MI6 agent who compiled the dossier, gave a hard copy last December to a “senior UK government national security official acting in his official capacity,” according to new documents filed in British court.
Before the filing — part of a lawsuit against Steele and his company — it wasn’t known that British officials had seen the 35-page report, according to The Guardian, which published the court document.
The dossier was published in full by Buzzfeed in January after it made its way around politicians’ offices and newsrooms.
The report, compiled between June and November 2016, alleges members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to hack computers and emails of top-ranking Democratic officials during the 2016 campaign.
The findings alleged Russia had embarrassing information about President Trump’s sexual activities in Moscow, blackmailing him into helping the hacking effort.
But no one has been able to verify the allegations.
The FBI and both houses of Congress are investigating whether Trump associates colluded with Russian intelligence agencies to influence last year’s election.
Steele, in the court filing, said he passed the dossier to the UK official because it was “of considerable importance in relation to alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election.”
It also “had implications for the national security of the US and the UK” and “needed to be analysed and further investigated/verified,” the filing says.
Steele is being sued in London for defamation by Aleksej Gubarev — a Russian venture capitalist who along with his company were named in the dossier. Gubarev is also suing Buzzfeed stateside for publishing the dossier.
The ex-spy’s lawyers wrote in the filing that his company, Orbis Business Intelligence Limited, was tapped last June to comb for any links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Last December Fusion GPS, the Washington, D.C.-based consultancy that hired him, asked for a copy to give Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
It was previously reported that McCain then handed off a copy to FBI Director James Comey at the end of last year.
Several media outlets reported in March that the FBI also considered paying Steele to continue his research in the days before the election, in which Trump had what many consider a come-from-behind victory.
Steele ultimately pulled out of the arrangement before the election, however, because he felt the government wasn’t taking his information seriously.
Trump has regularly blasted the dossier’s findings since it was released days before his Jan. 20 inauguration. Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, told The Atlantic in January that the dossier was “totally fake, totally inaccurate,” and denied allegations made about him in the report.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also denied that his country tried to influence the U.S. elections.