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>> It's a long way from Washington, but this is where the explosive report on Trump and Russia began life. These, the London offices of Christopher Steele. He's the man thought to be behind claims that Russian operatives collected compromising material on the US president-elect. A story worthy of a spy novel beginning to emerge.
Steele worked for Britain's MI6 intelligence service, according to people familiar with his career. He spent years under diplomatic cover in Russia and Paris. After leaving, he set up London-based Orbis Business Intelligence in 2009. It's thought he was a key player in the exposure of corruption at football governing body FIFA.
Later, he was reportedly hired by identified Republicans who wanted to stop Trump's bid for the GOP nomination. The BBC saying rival candidate Jeb Bush was the buyer. Steele charge the material so important that he also passed it to the FBI. But the bureau's probe went nowhere. Steele cutting off contact with the feds a month before the November election, frustrated at the lack of progress.
After Trump's win, the information circulated for months among major media outlets, including Reuters but it couldn't be corroborated. This week the website BuzzFeeD finally published some of Steele's material. That's drawn a furious response from the president-elect. He calls the reports phony stuff and fake news. Russian authorities also dismissing the allegations.
The co-founder of Orbis told the Wall Street Journal that he could neither confirm nor deny the company produced the reports on Trump. Meanwhile Steele is nowhere to be found, thought to be in hiding. UK media reports say he fears for his life. The ending to this spy thriller yet to be written.