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Trump committed egregious intelligence breach, ex-UK spy tells court

Trump committed egregious intelligence breach, ex-UK spy tells court
Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers remarks to supporters at the Club 47 USA event in West Palm Beach, Florida, US, Oct 11, 2023. 
PHOTO: Reuters file

LONDON — Donald Trump's decision to declassify evidence given by ex-British spy Christopher Steele over the former US president's alleged links with Russia led to the disappearance of two sources, Steele said in court documents made public on Tuesday (Oct 17).

Steele said in a witness statement that Trump's decision to declassify his 2017 testimony to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was "one of the most egregious breaches of intelligence rules and protocol by the US government in recent times".

The former intelligence officer also said: "Two of the named Russian sources have not been seen or heard of since."

His witness statement was made public on Tuesday, the day after Trump asked London's High Court to allow his data protection lawsuit against a British private investigations firm co-founded by Steele to continue.

Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is suing Orbis Business Intelligence over the "Steele dossier" in order, he said in his own witness statement, to prove its claims were false.

The dossier, published by the BuzzFeed website in 2017, alleged ties between Trump's campaign and Russia, and said Trump engaged in sexual behaviour that gave Russian authorities material with which to blackmail him.

Many of the allegations were never substantiated and lawyers for Trump, 77, said in court filings the report was "egregiously inaccurate", while the former president said it contained "numerous false, phoney or made-up allegations".

Orbis, however, says Trump is bringing the claim simply to address his grievances against the company and Steele.

'Untrue and disgraceful'

Steele had given evidence in an interview with two FBI agents as part of Mueller's probe into an alleged conspiracy between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia.

Mueller concluded in 2019 that there was no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia.

On the last day of his presidency, Trump declassified Steele's evidence and provided a copy of his testimony to a journalist, Steele said in his statement.

"The publication of this document did serious damage to the US government's Russian operations and their ability to recruit new Russian sources," Steele said.

Steele also said in his witness statement that he believed Trump was "motivated by a personal vendetta against me and Orbis and a desire for revenge".

He suggested Trump's discovery of Steele's friendship with his daughter Ivanka had damaged their relationship and also "deepened his animus towards me and is one of the reasons for his vindictive and vexatious conduct towards me and Orbis".

In his witness statement, Trump said Ivanka was "completely irrelevant to this claim and any mention of her only serves to distract this court from (Orbis') and Mr Steele's reckless behaviour".

"Any inference or allegation that Mr Steele makes about my relationship with my daughter is untrue and disgraceful," Trump added.

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