The FBI Friday released 71 heavily redacted pages describing that it had corresponded with former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of a dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and revealed the agency was paying him to gather intelligence.
The records show Steele was being paid for work as a “confidential human source” for an unspecified amount of time, and that he’d told the FBI he had informed a third party he was acting as an agency source, reports NBC News.
In addition, the papers show the FBI had determined Steele was the source for an online news article.
Even though the FBI has labeled the released file as “Records between FBI and Christopher Steele Part 01 of 01,” the former spy’s name itself doesn’t appear in the documents, notes the Washington Examiner.
The redactions make it impossible to tell when the FBI started paying Steele, NBC News reported. However, in February 2016, the agency “admonished” Steele. A federal law enforcement official explained that this simply means he was briefed on his duties of being an informant, not being punished or criticized.
Then, on Nov. 1, 2016, just a week before the presidential election, the FBI told Steele he should not “obtain any evidence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI,” as it was not likely to keep working with him.
Steele, however, had helped the FBI with past investigations, including one on corruption in international soccer.
It has already been reported, through The Washington Post, that the FBI and Steele reached an agreement in October 2016 to pay Steele to continue his research that led to the dossier.
Steele, a former M16 operative who ended up owning a private firm, had compiled the dossier while under contract to Fusion GPS, a research firm that had initially been hired by a Republican media firm, the Washington Free Beacon, to get information on Trump.
After Trump’s nomination, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party began paying for Fusion’s research, and then Fusion recruited Steele to gather information from sources in Russia.
BuzzFeed published the dossier in January 2017. It not only alleged collusion, but had salacious stories about President Donald Trump and claimed that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen had met with Russian officials. Cohen sued the website, but has since dropped the case.