BBC verifies key parts of Trump-Russia dossier

A key section of the controversial Steele Dossier has been confirmed by BBC News, involving a Russian spy’s involvement in meddling in the 2016 election.

One of the foundational points of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian officials is a comprehensive dossier assembled by Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 agent who wrote a series of memos involving Team Trump’s alleged contacts within Russian intelligence circles. On Wednesday night, one of the dossier’s most explosive claims was confirmed by BBC reporter Paul Wood.

On page 23 of the dossier, Steele wrote about a Russian spy who had been pulled out of the U.S. out of fears his cover had been blown. The spy’s alleged mission was to disrupt the 2016 presidential election for the benefit of Donald Trump:

A leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN, had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation… would be exposed in the media there.

While the spy’s name was misspelled (his name is actually Kalugin), Wood confirmed that the operative was, in fact, a spy working in the Russian embassy in Washington, DC, according to unnamed U.S. government sources Wood cited in his report. Kalugin was the head of the embassy’s economics division, and returned to Moscow in August 2016, after six years in the United States. However, Wood’s sources allege that Kalugin was employed by the Russian SVR (also known as GRU), which is one of the agencies that U.S. intelligence officials claim was behind the disruption the 2016 election.

“A retired member of a US intelligence agency told me that Kalugin was being kept under surveillance before he left the US,” Wood wrote. “In addition, State Department staff who dealt with Russia did not come across Kalugin, as would have been expected with a simple diplomat.”

The revelations about Kalugin are not the only parts of the Steele dossier to be verified. In February, CNN reported that the dossier’s reports of conversations between Russian officials and other Russian nationals did happen, and that the conversations that was intercepted by Steele concerned information that was simultaneously helpful to Donald Trump and harmful to Hillary Clinton.

While Trump supporters have attempted to cast doubt on the veracity of Christopher Steele’s claims, Paul Wood reports that officials within U.S. intelligence agencies considered Steele to be “credible,” and that that descriptor was typically seen as the highest praise an intelligence agent could give to another agent.

 

Kevin Wallace is a journalist with five years’ experience in print and digital media, and covers politics, media, and culture for the Resistance Report. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.