- Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele said the UK government has covered up evidence about US President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, The Guardian reported Monday.
- Steele reportedly said in a 2018 UK parliamentary inquiry that he “seemed to be throwing himself a blanket” over information he provided to Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.
- Steele said he had released a dossier on Trump’s ties to Russia in 2016, but that “no consultation or action was taken thereafter.”
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suppressed the publication of the parliamentary committee’s report ahead of the UK general election in December.
- Visit the Business Insider home page for more stories.
The UK government has covered up evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “possible control” over US President Donald Trump to protect his relationship with the United States, a former British spy said Monday, The Guardian reported.
Christopher Steele, a former MI6 agent, said in a 2018 UK parliamentary inquiry that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government ignored evidence of Putin’s relationship with Trump.
The committee responsible for the investigation, the Intelligence and Security Committee, was due to publish its report last year. However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to publish it before the December general election, and it has yet to be published.
Steele said the May government, in which Johnson served as foreign secretary for two years, threw a blanket over the allegations about Trump’s relationship with Putin.
The former spy said he presented a dossier on Trump’s relationship with Russia to UK security officials in 2016, the year Trump won the U.S. general election. However, Steele said that “on reaching the top political decision-makers, he seemed to throw himself a blanket,” according to The Guardian.
“The UK government, he said, did not carry out any investigation or take action thereafter on the essence of intelligence on the record.”
Steele, who ran the MI6 Russia bureau for three years, included the complaint he submitted to the Intelligence and Security Committee in August 2018 for its investigation into Russian interference in British democracy, The Guardian said.
In his evidence, Steele said May’s government decided not to act on the information it received to protect the UK’s close and long-lasting relationship with the United States.
“In this case, political considerations seemed to outweigh national security interests,” Steele said, according to The Guardian. “If so, in my opinion, HMG made a serious mistake in balancing matters of strategic importance to our country.”
He added that “a possible trade agreement should never be allowed to overshadow national security considerations.”
Steele said the UK government was reluctant to act when it would present “broader and more difficult political implications”, using as an example allegations of Russian interference in the referendum on EU membership in 2016.
“Examples of this include reporting possible Kremlin control over President Trump and his family / administration and indications of Russian interference and clandestine funding of the Brexit referendum,” Steele said, according to The Guardian.
Not publishing Russia’s report is an “affront to democracy”
Although it was completed in October and sent to Johnson, the ISC report on Russian interference has not been released. Johnson refused to release him before the UK general election in December.
The UK government has insisted that the long-awaited report cannot be released until a new ISC is formed.
However, six months after the general election, the committee has yet to be formed. The BBC reported last week that the heist was due to Johnson’s Conservative Party not agreeing to be nominated by members of parliament as committee members.
A group of opposition lawmakers last week urged Johnson to publish the report.
The letter, shared exclusively with Business Insider, noted that six months was the longest time Parliament had to wait for the ISC to form.
He said Johnson’s failure to publish the report was an “affront to democracy” and that it was “unsustainable” for Johnson to “continue to block publication of the Russia report.”
Ahead of last year’s general election, The Times reported that the Johnson government withheld the report due to the “shameful” links it revealed between the Russian secret service and Conservative Party donors.
A representative for Johnson said Monday that the committee would be formed in the coming weeks.
“The work to establish the committee is ongoing and will be established as quickly as current circumstances allow,” they said, adding that “more announcements will be made, including committee members in due course.”
Trump’s relationship with Russia and Putin has been analyzed since the 2016 presidential campaign.
Special Adviser Robert Mueller found that Russia worked to get Trump elected, although his research found insufficient evidence to suggest that Russia coordinated with the Trump campaign.
Trump has repeatedly praised Putin and Russia, and said he trusted Putin’s word about that of American intelligence agencies that discovered that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
John Bolton, a former Trump national security adviser, said in an ABC News interview last week that Putin did not view Trump as a “serious adversary.”
“I think Putin thinks he can interpret it as a violin,” Bolton said.