No wonder Steele has been so reticent to testify under oath. Especially since, if he retains ties to British Intelligence he could be prosecuted for espionage under British law for simultaneously working as a source for the FBI.I believe it's a well established fact that British Intelligence (GCHQ) as well as the Intelligence Services of several other European countries (including, really, Estonia!) colluded with US Government agencies (presumably the CIA) in the effort to avert a Trump presidency. Perhaps they feared Trump, or perhaps they naively believed the MSM narrative that President Hillary was inevitable and thought this was a smart way to curry favor with the incoming administration. It backfired and, in the case of the British, in a very public way: GCHQ boss Robert Hannigan quits for 'personal reasons' after just two years. Right--who wanted that job anyway? And what was that date? January 23, 2017, giving only three days notice? Surely this had nothing to do with Trump being inaugurated, when was that? January 20, 2017, the very same day Hannigan gave his notice? Yes, very messy, and we can probably trace PM May's rocky relationship with Trump to this, oh, misunderstanding.
But, Steele. What are the possibilities regarding his intelligence affiiliations? Perhaps he still works for British Intelligence in some role, even after his retirement. After all, the fulsome praise for Steele in yesterday's WaPo profile of the former spy could be taken that way:
Steele’s former boss Richard Dearlove ... said Steele became the “go-to person on Russia in the commercial sector” following his retirement from the Secret Intelligence Service.Let's see. Steele never went to Russia after he retired. How did he become the "go-to" guy, in that case, except on the basis of his time in Russia for MI-6? So it seems plausible that it was MI-6 that kept "going-to" Steele for his expertise on the Russian commercial sector. Retired but, well, not totally.
On the other hand, we know for a fact that he was carried as an asset by the FBI--else how could the FBI "fire" Steele for blabbing about his relationship with the FBI to David Corn, for goodness sake.
So, that leaves us with a number of possibiities:
Steele was in this to further Brit interests.
Steele was in it as a hired gun for a faction of the American Deep State.
Steele, personally thought the interests of both Britain and the American Deep State coincided.
Steele didn't care whose interest came out on top as long as he got paid.
There are almost certainly other possibilities, too. Of course, for Her Majesty's Government, the important thing is that Trump himself doesn't care whether Steele was acting with British government knowledge to further what the British saw as their interests, or whether they were merely trying to curry favor with their Deep State masters on the Potomac--in either case Trump was, and is, seriously pissed. As witness his public humiliations of PM May.
Frankly, it's a bit difficult to sort out.
On the one hand, the fact that Steele openly told David Corn that he was working with the FBI would be consistent--or, not inconsistent--with Steele being in the employ of the Brits, working with their knowledge to influence the US election. But maybe the Brits got their wires crossed. Steele's trips to Rome to meet FBI contacts have the appearance of concealing these contacts from British Intelligence. Was this done because Steele genuinely wanted to conceal these contacts or did he do this to play up the cloak and dagger stuff with the FBI? I would plump for the latter, because Steele's current legal maneuvering in London certainly makes it appear that was, in fact, still serving as an agent of the British government when he was working with the Hillary Campaign (an umbrella organization covering such sub-groups as Fusion GPS, the FBI, and the DoJ):
A British court ruled last week that Mr Steele should be required to undergo a lengthy pre-trial questioning session, but Mr Steele and his lawyers have pushed back on that decision.My guess is that Steele's maneuverings--which presumably have the blessing of the British government--are being made to avoid further public embarrassment to the Brits, who are desperately groveling and attempting to rebuild the ties to the Trump administration that they so thoughtlessly trashed.
“The Order is likely to require Mr Steele to answer questions in circumstances where his answers would .... require the disclosure of sensitive intelligence information which would endanger UK national security interests and personnel,” Mr Steele’s lawyers wrote in court papers.
However, regarding those meetings in Rome with the FBI, it's interesting to place them in our timeline. Unfortunately, we don't have precise dates for all the meetings. We know that shortly before his falling out with the FBI Steele met with agents in Rome on October 3, 2016, to discuss financial arrangements for the future. However, he had already met with the agents earlier when things were starting to heat up--in August, 2016. It would be nice to know the exact date of those August meetings in Rome, for the reason that August 16 was when the "insurance policy" text was sent. Vanity Fair says "early August."
Actually, Rome meetings before or after--or both--work well enough for our timeline. By August the FBI would have known what they wanted or needed--really, really needed, as sundance says--from Steele: "stuff" to get the FISA on their target of choice, Carter Page. The October meeting fits in as well. By that point Steele would have delivered the "stuff" and, pleased with the take, the FBI was ready to discuss further projects and further payments.
Sometimes it's nice to simply flesh out the details, to get a feel for how things were worked in practice. A work in progress.