Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who authored a controversial opposition research dossier alleging ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, has been in talks with the Senate Intelligence Committee about meeting with Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-Va.), according to an NBC News report.
According to the report, Steele indicated through an associate last month that he was willing to meet with the top Intelligence Committee leaders.
But at a joint news conference on Wednesday, Burr said their panel had “hit a brick wall” in its efforts to investigate the dossier because Steele had refused to speak with them.
Sources cited by NBC said the situation was “more complicated” than Burr’s comments suggested.
NBC News added:
Those two people, one close to Steele and one familiar with the committee discussions, said that one of the sticking points was Steele’s unwillingness to discuss who underwrote his work. Steele, who once worked as a British spy in Russia, was hired by the firm Fusion GPS, which was conducting opposition research originally funded by undisclosed Republican opponents of Donald Trump, according to a source close to Steele. During the general election, unknown Democrats began picking up the tab, sources familiar with the matter have said.
In a joint statement to NBC News, Sens. Burr and Warner said: “The Committee has made multiple requests to meet with Mr. Steele over the last nine months, including outreach to his attorneys. We remain open to any credible offer to meet with Mr. Steele, whether in Washington or in London.”
This followed a CNN report on Thursday that members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team has met with Steele as part of the Trump-Russia probe.
At his first news conference in January, Trump denounced the document.
“A thing like that should have never been written, it should never have been had and certainly should never have been released,” he said, later saying the memo was written by “sick people [who] put that crap together.”