Paul Wood

Donald Trump vs British spies

Will Trump continue his battle against the ‘Deep State’ when he visits Britain?

The Daily Telegraph this week has a ‘scoop’ about the UK government giving permission for the Mueller inquiry to talk to former MI6 officer Christopher Steele about his evidence, which said Donald Trump was compromised by the Kremlin. The Telegraph story certainly sets the mood for President Trump’s state visit to Britain in eleven days’ time, and has some important new details, but it is not quite an exclusive. I wrote in The Spectator a year ago that Mueller’s team had been in the UK in late 2017 to question Steele, a meeting that was set up ‘through official channels’. Nevertheless, one of the sources I quoted said that in general ‘Mueller’s team… weren’t happy with the level of cooperation they were getting’ from the British government. Steele himself was said to feel that the government and his old employer, MI6, had abandoned him because they were anxious not to offend the President.

What happened in 2017 might be old news, especially now that Mueller has completed his report. A more urgent question for the government is whether they will cooperate with efforts by President Trump and his allies to get a ‘reckoning’ for what they call ‘the Russia hoax’.

On Twitter, Trump has called Steele a ‘failed spy’ paid by ‘crooked Hillary’ to write a ‘phony dossier’. A dossier Trump believes gave the FBI what they needed for warrants to ‘spy’ on his campaign: ‘illegal’ acts that led him to fire James Comey, which led in turn to the Mueller inquiry. Trump wants an investigation of the investigators – and under the attorney general, Bill Barr, he is getting one. The Associated Press reports that Barr is working with the FBI and the CIA to examine ‘the origins of the Russia investigation’.

In fact, this is only one of three US government inquiries into the Russian investigation.

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Written by
Paul Wood
Paul Wood was a BBC foreign correspondent for 25 years, in Belgrade, Athens, Cairo, Jerusalem, Kabul and Washington DC. He has won numerous awards, including two US Emmys for his coverage of the Syrian civil war

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