Former British spy Christopher Steele, author of the salacious Trump dossier, has broken 18 months of silence with a swipe at President Trump.
“In these strange and troubling times, it is hard to speak unpalatable truths to power, but I believe we all still have a duty to do so,” Steele wrote to the editor of Vanity Fair magazine after he was listed among the 100 most influential people in the media, politics, entertainment and finance, Sky News first reported.
“I salute those on your list, and otherwise, who have had the courage to speak out over the last year, often at great personal cost,” he continued. “At a time when governance is so distorted and one-sided, as I believe it currently is in the United States, the media has a key role to play in holding it accountable.”
"In these strange and troubling times, it is hard to speak unpalatable truths to power, but I believe we all still have a duty to do so. ... At a time when governance is so distorted and one-sided, as I believe it currently is in the United States, the media has a key role to play in holding it accountable."
Steele rose to controversial prominence after he was revealed to be the author of the unverified dossier about Trump and his dealings with Russia, which was funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The Department of Justice released documents earlier this summer that were used by the government to justify the FISA surveillance warrant against Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to then-candidate Trump.
The documents show that the infamous and unverified Steele dossier was a major component of the 2016 surveillance warrant. The dossier was also a major component to justify subsequent renewals of the surveillance warrant.
The unredacted sections of the FISA documents don’t indicate the dossier’s content was ever verified. The FBI said Steele was “reliable” based on his previous work.
After Steele was "suspended and then terminated" as an FBI source -- for what the bureau described as "unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI" -- he reportedly remained in contact with Bruce Ohr, a U.S. Justice Department official whose wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired Steele to compile information for the dossier.
According to a U.S. House memo released Feb. 2, Steele told Bruce Ohr in September 2016 that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”
Vanity Fair’s 2018 New Establishment List put Steele, the only British national on the list, in 38th place.
“The former head of M.I.6’s Russia desk compiled the infamous dossier that raised the possibility Donald Trump was vulnerable to Russian blackmail,” the magazine wrote. “Steele even grew a beard and went into hiding — merely adding to his mythic reputation on the left.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who’s investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government, topped the list and was branded the most influential figure in 2018.
The U.S. president didn’t make the list, but Russian President Vladimir Putin was given 58th place, just below singer Rihanna and above Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
"In more normal times, I would have welcomed the opportunity to join you at your New Establishment Summit in the US this week. Sadly, in the present legal and political situation I am unable to do so, but I sincerely hope and trust that these circumstances will change soon.”
“I was surprised and honoured, particularly as a Brit, to be included” in the list, Steele wrote in an email. “I find myself in the company of many talented and distinguished people, although I personally would not accord such accolades to some of the other foreign nationals included in the list!” he continued, likely referring to Putin’s presence on the list.
“In more normal times, I would have welcomed the opportunity to join you at your New Establishment Summit in the US this week,” he added. “Sadly, in the present legal and political situation I am unable to do so, but I sincerely hope and trust that these circumstances will change soon.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Catherine Herridge and Pamela K. Browne contributed to this report.