A former British intelligence officer now working for a private investigative firm in London prepared the unsubstantiated allegations about President-elect Donald Trump's connections to Russia, according to news reports.
Christopher Steele, 52, a director of Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., prepared the summary, The Wall Street Journal reports. His partner is Christopher Burrows, 58.
The company was founded in 2009 by former British intelligence agents, according to its website, and its staffers draw on "extensive experience at boardroom level in government, multilateral diplomacy and international business to develop bespoke solutions for clients."
The two-page synopsis alleged that Trump campaign officials worked with members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's government and claimed that the Kremlin had negative evidence of the president-elect's behavior and financial information that could be used for blackmailing purposes.
Burrows, reached by the Journal at his home outside London on Wednesday, said that he would not "confirm or deny" that Orbis had produced the report.
In recent weeks, however, Steele has declined repeated requests for interviews through an intermediary, who said the subject was "too hot," the Journal reports.
The classified dossier was included as an addendum to a report on Russian hacking during the November election that was presented to Trump last week by top U.S. intelligence officers.
President Barack Obama ordered the hacking report — and he was briefed on Thursday.
The findings were declassified after Trump's session on Friday.
On Wednesday, Trump slammed news reports about the allegations, saying that "it's a disgrace that information would be let out.
"It's all fake news," the president-elect said at his first formal news conference since his November victory. "It's phony stuff."
In addition, Trump said for the first time that he "thinks it was Russia" that hacked the Democratic National Committee and other party operatives during the election.
According to the Journal, a LinkedIn profile in Steele's name lists no specifics about his career — but a Burrows profile says that he was a counselor in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
He also served in Brussels and New Delhi in the 2000s. The Foreign Office declined to comment.
Intelligence officers often use diplomatic assignments as cover for their spying activities, according to the Journal.
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