Following the eruption of accusations against the US intelligence community at Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has met with him to try to limit the damage, and in order assure Trump of his “dismay” that the Trump Dossier was leaked and that the US intelligence community was not responsible for it.
Donald Trump is likely to be less than fully convinced of Clapper’s assurances for the reasons I discussed previously. Nonetheless it is likely that an attempt will be made to draw a line under the affair in order to re-establish some sort of working relationship between Trump and the US intelligence community.
In further news concerning the Trump Dossier, its supposed author – a former British intelligence officer called Christopher Steele – is said to have fled his home with his family, supposedly fearing for his life. There are some reports that he is hiding in a British intelligence ‘safe house’.
Whilst it is indeed possible that Steele really is afraid of Russian vengeance, his fears are in that case grossly overstated. Russian intelligence is most unlikely to be interested in him if only because they know the contents of the Trump Dossier are made up and untrue.
What Steele’s disappearance does is take him out of circulation so that he can avoid public questioning about the Trump Dossier, though if he is really hiding in a ‘safe house’ it is a certainty that British intelligence are questioning him intensively about it. I would add that for the British government, which has in recent days been trying to forge contacts with Trump and his team – even to the point of sending over British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to talk to them – publication of the Trump Dossier has come a major embarrassment.
Lastly, claims that are appearing in the Internet that one specific notorious claim in the Trump Dossier – that Trump had a sex orgy with prostitutes in the Presidential suite of Moscow’s Ritz Carlton Hotel – was invented on a public message board as a prank, are almost certainly untrue. The timetable of the Dossier makes that all but impossible. What these stories may show is how widely the contents of the Dossier were circulating in the months before it was published. They do not prove that this particular story was fabricated as a prank.