A former MI6 spy who compiled the explosive dossier on President Donald Trump’s alleged links with Russia has been approached to testify before the US Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a report.
Christopher Steele’s associates said it was currently unlikely the private security consultant would be willing to travel to the US, but a bipartisan group of senators have offered to facilitate initial meetings in Britain or on other neutral territory in order to plan for any eventual testimony, The Independent revealed on Thursday.
The Senate panel agreed earlier this week to carry out an investigation into the Trump administration’s alleged dealings with Moscow amid an outcry from members of Congress.
Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a Trump critic, sent an intermediary to London late last year to pick up Steele’s dossier. The Arizona Republican subsequently passed the 35-page document to FBI Director James Comey.
The FBI, at one stage, offered to pay Steele to expand his investigation of Trump and his associates. However, the former British spy continued his probe without getting paid because he was concerned about what he was discovering.
The White House has strongly rejected the report, which includes allegations that Russian intelligence services are in possession of comprising information on Trump and could potentially blackmail the new president.
Trump has blasted the dossier as “fake news” put together by a “failed spy.”
Steele, who is held in high esteem among British and American intelligence agencies, has been in hiding since his dossier was published in January.
The development comes amid revelations that Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, met with the Russian ambassador to the US at least twice during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Sessions, a major policy adviser to the Trump campaign, said during his confirmation hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee in January that he did not know of any contacts between campaign members and Russian officials.
- Dems urge Sessions to resign over Russia ties
- Jeff Sessions recuses himself from Russia probe
- GOP senators join Dems. to probe Trump-Russia
Sessions said Thursday he was recusing himself from a Justice Department inquiry into the alleged Russian contacts with Trump campaign advisers amid mounting calls for him to resign.
Trump stood by his attorney general on Thursday, saying Sessions did not make any misleading statements under oath during his confirmation hearings.
"Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional," Trump said in a statement.
The president characterized the whole episode as a plot by Democrats who “have lost their grip on reality” after their loss in the November election. “It is a total witch hunt!" he said.
Trump’s national security adviser, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, was forced to resign after details of his contacts with Russia surfaced last month.