Christopher Steele also revealed that a British official had asked him to look into sensitive government documents on Russia just days before his case, which alleged a collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow in the 2016 U.S. election, was released. made public.
It meant he felt “surprised and disappointed,” he said, when Ms. May, as prime minister, later appeared to downplay her ties to the government.
“It was quite maddening to have announcements made… that it was nothing, we had nothing to do with the government, we had not worked with or for the government in years and so on, ”said the former senior MI6 officer. in an exclusive Sky News interview.
He was referring to Ms May’s comments in January 2017 after the case sparked a political storm in the United States, drawing furious denials from President-elect Trump.
“It is absolutely clear that the person who produced this dossier has not worked for the British government for years,” she said at the time.
Still, Mr Steele said staff at the Whitehall Joint Intelligence Committee were sitting in their office about 10 days before news of the case broke due to the unrelated request to have him review “documents. government officials very sensitive to Russia ”.
He also said Ms May would have known who he was because he had met her with her business partner, Christopher Burrows, another former intelligence officer, at a mutual friend’s house in 2010, when she had just become a minister. inside.
The friend had suggested “that we should get together and talk about some of these issues so that she gets a good start and understands the type of manual and the modus operandi (MO) of some of these Russian actors,” said M Steele. .
As to what they discussed, Mr Steele said: “There really wasn’t a lot of evidence of electoral interference as such in 2010. But what we said was that when you watch Russia, you can’t just take organized crime, the oligarchs, the government apart. You have to see them as some kind of plasma cloud that is related to each other and they all work for each other and for each other. And it is a diffuse threat. “
In late 2016, before it was made public, Mr Steele said he was sharing his work, investigating possible links between the Kremlin and Mr Trump, with senior UK officials for the sake of what his sources were claiming. .
He said he thought security officials had handled it properly, but he was not so sure of government ministers, noting how much emphasis had naturally been placed on implementing of Brexit and the adaptation to the unpredictability of a future Trump presidency.
« The general impression I had was that this was a problem that they didn’t want to face, ”he said.
A spokesperson for former prime minister Ms May did not respond to a request for comment.
Lord Mark Sedwill, who was his national security adviser, rebutted Mr Steele’s claim.
“Just because people outside of government can’t necessarily see the action, especially when it comes to intelligence and security matters, they shouldn’t assume that the action isn’t happening and that it is not being treated seriously, ”he said in an interview.
“Now, of course, the British government, as Theresa May and Boris Johnson have said, must have good relations with the President of the United States, whoever he is.
“But just because he didn’t see any action at the time he was hoping to see doesn’t mean it wasn’t taken seriously and any such allegation is of course subject to review. ‘an appropriate and professional investigation.. »